Sprague's Pipit

Silhouette PipitsPipits

Sprague's Pipit

Anthus spragueii
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Motacillidae
Basic Description

An unassuming bird with plain buffy plumage, Sprague’s Pipit possesses an amazing song flight, hovering on rapidly fluttering wings high above its territory, singing a lovely, downward-swirling song during bursts of gliding. When not singing, this species is very difficult to find in its prairie and grasslands habitats, often not seen until it flushes from nearly underfoot. Because Sprague’s Pipit relies on native prairie and grasslands, its populations have declined tremendously as a result of the destruction of these habitats across interior North America.

More ID Info
image of range map for Sprague's PipitRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Look for Sprague’s Pipits in wildlife refuges and other patches of native prairie during spring and early summer, when the males’ song flights make them easy to find and lovely to watch. Away from the breeding grounds, Sprague’s Pipits stay nearly invisible among grasses that are usually taller than the birds—you’ll need to walk patiently through grassy areas and hope to flush a pipit. If the bird gives a squeaky call and flies upward, it is a Sprague’s Pipit. The more widespread American Pipit has a different call and flushes away, not up.

Other Names
  • Bisbita Llanero (Spanish)
  • Pipit de Sprague (French)
  • Cool Facts