Conservation status No obvious trends in the small Alaskan breeding population.
Family Wagtails and Pipits
Habitat Tundra in summer; during migration, fields. In Alaska, breeds on tundra, mostly in fairly dry rocky areas next to hummocky sedge meadows. Migrants elsewhere in North America have been mostly in short grass or plowed fields, occasionally at edge of water.
Widespread across northern Europe and Asia, this pipit enters North America as a nesting bird only in a very limited area of western Alaska. There it breeds mostly at the western end of the Seward Peninsula, and on offshore islands such as St. Lawrence and Little Diomede. Surprisingly, a few Red-throated Pipits often show up along the California coast in fall. These lost migrants usually associate with flocks of American Pipits in open fields.

Feeding Behavior

Forages by walking on the ground, picking up items from ground or from low growth. Often probes with its bill among low vegetation. Large insects may be pounded on the ground before they are eaten.


5-6, sometimes 3-7. Pale gray to buff, finely spotted with brown and gray. Incubation is by female only, about 11-13 days. Male feeds female during incubation. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 11-15 days after hatching.


Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 11-15 days after hatching.


Mostly insects. Diet in North America is not well known. In Eurasia, summer diet is mostly insects, including many midges, crane flies, mosquitoes, beetles, caterpillars, small bees, moths, and many others. Also eats spiders, centipedes, small snails, and seeds of grasses and other plants.


To defend nesting territory, male performs flight-song: flies up, glides a short distance, then sails or parachutes down while singing. In courtship, male faces female, quivers wings and tail, and raises bill to show off red throat. Nest site is on ground, usually against side of hummock or partly sheltered by rock or low shrub. Male apparently begins nest by scraping small hollow in moss; female builds nest, with male bringing much of material. Nest is cup of grass, leaves, moss, lined with finer grass and sometimes with animal hair or feathers.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Download Our Bird Guide App


Most birds breeding in Alaska probably migrate south in Asia. Small but variable numbers (mostly immatures) go down Pacific Coast in fall; in California, seen mostly in October.

See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.

Learn more

Songs and Calls

Call a sharp seeep, or see-eep.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.