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American Pipit

Above: American Pipit (photo by Lynnea Parker)

What Does It Look Like?

The American Pipit is a smallish, delicate bird about the size of a sparrow.  Its colour is generally soft, being greyish brown overall.  The breast is variably streaked but never darkly so.  The underparts range from buff to cinnamon.  The bill is short and rather slender.  A white ring encircles the eye beneath a pale eyebrow.

Above: American Pipit (photo by Christian Artuso)

Does It Migrate?

Winters are spent in coastal areas from British Columbia to California, and eastward through southern United States to El Salvador.

Where Does It Live?

This ground-nester breeds in the Arctic and Subarctic areas of North America to Siberia. In Manitoba, breeding occurs northward from the southern edge of Wapusk National Park and west to Nueltin Lake.  Favoured sites are in open, moist areas such as thinly treed peatlands near lakes.  Rocky coastline habitats, eskers and alpine meadows are also used.

Above: American Pipit blending into surroundings (photo by Christian Artuso)

Above: American Pipit (photo by Christian Artuso)

Where Can I See It?

American Pipits are most easily detected while they forage for aquatic insects along muddy or sandy lake shores and river margins during spring and fall migration (early to mid-May, and late August through September), or as they foragie in pastures and agricultural fields.  Because they are small and lightly coloured, they are not easily seen.  Their tell-tale song, however, alerts one to their presence in the air.  Patricia and Victoria beaches are frequented by this species, as is the Lac du Bonnet area, and Whitewater Lake in the southwest.

Above: American Pipit (photo by Lynnea Parker)


Numbers are declining in western North America.  This perceived decline (more detailed study is required) could be attributable to several factors, including wetland drainage and reforestation. 

Did You Know?

They are known as the Buff-bellied Pipit across Asia.