Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Zeiss - Always on the lookout for something special – Shop now

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Personal tools
Main Categories

Rock Pipit

From Opus

Alternative names: Eurasian Rock Pipit; European Rock Pipit

Photo by IanFThe Headland, Hartlepool, Cleveland, United Kingdom
Photo by IanF
The Headland, Hartlepool, Cleveland, United Kingdom
Anthus petrosus


[edit] Identification

Length 16·5–17 cm (6½-6¾ in), weight 18–32 g
A robust pipit, obviously larger than Meadow Pipit. Classic nominate birds they are strikingly dark, so much so that the diffuse black streaks on their underparts become almost lost in a dark grey-brown wash. The most prominent facial feature is a whitish eye-ring, usually broken at the lores. Legs dark red-brown to blackish, bill blackish, strong and fairly long.

JuvenilePhoto by Mick SwaySouth Stack Cliffs, Anglesey, July 2016
Photo by Mick Sway
South Stack Cliffs, Anglesey, July 2016

[edit] Similar species

Most can be told from the similar structured Water Pipit by their dull grey, not white, outer tail feathers and by their all dark head with no eyestripe or wingbars. However Scandinavian Rock Pipits of the subspecies A. p. littoralis may have obvious eyestripes and wing bars and some white in their outer tail and in spring their breasts become paler, pinker and less streaked much like Water Pipits. Fortunately they usually show some diffuseness to the breast streaking and more strongly streaked mantle. In non-breeding plumage littoralis Rock Pipits can also be distinguished from Water Pipit by their grey to olivaceous rather than brownish upperparts.

Here are two threads which discuss the contentious subject of racial identification of Rock Pipit and separation from Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta. [[1]] [[2]]

[edit] Distribution

Northern and western Europe; also northwest Africa (Morocco) in winter. Western populations resident, northeastern populations migratory. A vagrant in Iceland, the Canary Islands, several Mediterranean islands, and inland in Europe.

[edit] Taxonomy

Forms a superspecies with the recently split Water Pipit and Buff-bellied Pipit

[edit] Subspecies

Different authorities accept three subspecies[1] or just two subspecies[2]:

  • A. p. kleinschmidti:
  • A. p. petrosus (British Rock Pipit):
  • A. p. littoralis (Scandinavian Rock Pipit):
  • Fennoscandia, Baltic States, and just into northwestern Russia (Kola Peninsula); migratory, winters from Denmark to southern Spain and northwestern Africa. Overlaps with A. p. petrosus in winter in Britain and France.

[edit] Habitat

Sea coasts and islands with low growing vegetation. Breeding strictly coastal, on sea cliffs and rocky islets, usually just above the high water mark, and wintering in the same habitat but also on saltmarshes and other less stony coastal habitats and tidal rivers. Only rarely even a short distance inland, when typically on stony lake or reservoir margins.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

They eat a variety of small invertebrates, such as snails, small crabs and worms. Much of its food is caught on tidal land at low tide, but also feeds above high water at high tide.

[edit] Vocalisation

Call: is a Fisst, markedly more emphatic than Meadow Pipit.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2017. IOC World Bird Names (version 7.1). Available at
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved July 2016)
  4. RSPB

[edit] External Links


Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.34425211 seconds with 12 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 04:31.