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