|Conservation status||Some analyses of Christmas Bird Counts have suggested declining numbers; however, species is still widespread and common.|
|Family||Wagtails and Pipits|
|Habitat||Tundra, alpine slopes; in migration and winter, plains, bare fields, shores. Breeds on tundra, both in far north and in high mountains above treeline, in areas with very low growth such as sedges, grass, and dwarf willows. In migration and winter found on flat open ground such as plowed fields, short-grass prairie, mudflats, shores, river sandbars.|
Forages by walking on the ground, taking insects from the ground or from low plants. Sometimes forages while walking in very shallow water. Except in the breeding season, usually forages in flocks.
4-6, sometimes 3-7. Whitish to pale buff, heavily spotted with brown and gray. Incubation is by female only, 13-16 days. Male feeds female during incubation period. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Female broods young much of the time during first few days; male may bring food for her and for young. Young usually leave nest at about 14 days, are fed by parents for about another 2 weeks.
Both parents feed nestlings. Female broods young much of the time during first few days; male may bring food for her and for young. Young usually leave nest at about 14 days, are fed by parents for about another 2 weeks.
Mostly insects, also some seeds. Insects make up great majority of summer diet; included are many flies, true bugs, beetles, caterpillars, moths, and others. Also eats some spiders, millipedes, ticks. Migrants along coast may eat tiny crustaceans and marine worms. Inland in fall and winter, seeds of grasses and weeds may make up close to half of diet.
Male performs song-flight display to defend nesting territory and attract a mate. In display, male begins singing on ground, flies up (often to 100' or more), then glides or parachutes down again with wings fully opened, singing all the way. Nest site is on ground in sheltered spot, usually protected under overhanging grass, small rock ledge, or piece of sod. Nest (built by female only) is a cup of grass, sedges, and weeds, lined with finer grass and sometimes with animal hair or feathers.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Migrates in flocks, apparently traveling mostly by day.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsFlight song a weak and tinkling trill; call a paired, high-pitched pip-pip.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the American Pipit
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the American Pipit
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.