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Meadow Pipit

From Opus

Photo © by Dave Whistle Norfolk, England, 8 October 2005
Photo © by Dave Whistle
Norfolk, England, 8 October 2005
Anthus pratensis


[edit] Identification

Length 14–15.5 cm (15.5-6 in), weight 14.5–22 g
A small, brown, or olive, streaky pipit; the streaks becoming closely packed on the upper breast. White outer tail feathers. Indistinct facial pattern. Legs pinkish-yellow, with a distinct long hind claw.

[edit] Similar species

Tree Pipit and Rock Pipit
For differences between Eurasian Skylark and Meadow Pipit see this thread in Tips for New Birders Forum

[edit] Distribution

Note long hind claw in flightPhoto © by IanFSaltholme RSPB reserve, Cleveland, England, 20 September 2010
Note long hind claw in flight
Photo © by IanF
Saltholme RSPB reserve, Cleveland, England, 20 September 2010

Iceland, the Faroes and British Isles, and Europe. Very common in Iceland, the Faroes and British Isles, from north and central France east to the northern shores of the Black Sea and north to the whole of Fennoscandia and northern Russia including western Siberia. Isolated resident populations in the Apennines and Caucasus and has bred in the former Yugoslavia and Romania. Resident in the Faroes, British Isles and east to Denmark but elsewhere a summer visitor.

In winter occurs throughout western and southern Europe, north Africa, and southwest Asia; many birds undergo more local movements from upland to coastal areas. Main movements in August-October and April-May.

Vagrants recorded in Svalbard and Bear Island, the Azores and Madeira, and regular winter visitor in small numbers in Kuwait.

[edit] Taxonomy

Variation is mostly clinal, with darker birds predominating in the west and paler birds in the east.

[edit] Subspecies

Two weakly defined races recognized[2]. Considered monotypic by some authorities[1][3][4][6]:

  • A. p. whistleri: slightly darker and more rufous above and buff below than nominate, following Gloger's rule.
  • A. p. pratensis:

[edit] Habitat

Open country including fields and farmland, marshes, meadows, heaths and moorland. Also on coastal grasslands, sand-dunes open beaches, especially in winter. Likes open country with plenty of vegetation - upland moorland, heathland, fens, grassland, flood meadows and coastal marshes.

[edit] Behaviour

Creeps about in longish grass.

Often sits on fence wires where long hind claw can be clearly seen

[edit] Flight

Rather erratic

[edit] Vocalisation

A high 'weesk weesk weesk'; a high accelerating song ending in a trill - given in flight.

Meadow Pipit voice clip

[edit] References

  1. Gill, F & D Donsker (Eds). 2018. IOC World Bird List (v8.2). doi : 10.14344/IOC.ML.8.2. Available at
  2. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from
  3. Christidis et al. 2014. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, version 4.1 (Downloadable checklist). Accessed 15 September 2018 from
  4. Alström, P., K. Mild & B. Zetterström, 2003. Pipits and wagtails of Europe, Asia and North America. Identification and systematics. 1‐496. Christopher Helm, London.
  5. BirdLife International. 2017. Anthus pratensis (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22718556A110870898. Downloaded on 14 September 2018.
  6. Tyler, S. & Sharpe, C.J. (2018). Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 15 September 2018).
  7. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition

[edit] External Links

A few photos you see in additional images are of Tree Pipits. Although not mentioned above, the photos highlight how useful bill size can be in identification (with Tree having a more hefty bill)


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