Fun American Pipit Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 18, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Fact-checked by Deeti Gupta
American pipit facts  about a unique bird species.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.4 Min

The American pipit (Anthus rubescens), also known as a buff-bellied pipit, is extensively found in different areas of North America and Eurasia. The species has been divided into two sub-species, one residing in Northern America, while the other one lives mainly in and around Japan.

American pipit migration takes place in fall and winter as the temperature begins to dip and flocks of these birds have been seen nesting in alpine and tundra areas.

The American pipit breeding habitat is found in open land or on alpine slopes that have enough insects to eat as food. During their winter migration, several flocks of American pipit birds can be seen foraging together. The bird looks quite similar to other ground-dwelling species, but it can be distinguished by its narrow bill and long legs.

Want to know more about these birds? Keep reading to find lots of amazing American pipit facts. Also, check out these articles on the horned lark and the great grey owl to learn about more amazing birds.

American Pipit Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an American pipit?

The American pipit (Anthus rubescens) is a type of songbird that is also known as a buff-bellied pipit.

What class of animal does an American pipit belong to?

The American pipit belongs to the class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Motacillidae, and the genus Anthus.

How many American pipits are there in the world?

According to Partners in Flight, about 20 million American pipit birds are living in this world. However, their population has decreased by a margin of 30% since the '70s.

Where does an American pipit live?

The geographical distribution of this bird is known to be across the northern Pacific region. American pipit birds are found in different parts of North America, where they are present everywhere, from Alaska to New England.

As North American birds, the American pipit is also present on the Pacific coast and in British Columbia. The bird is also present in Eurasia, where it is mainly known as the buff-bellied pipit. A significant population of the species is present in Japan.

What is an American pipit's habitat?

The American pipit is mainly found in the tundra. However, this bird species is also found in other habitats, such as in shortgrass plains, alpine meadows, sandbars, and mudflats.

While migrating, these birds prefer to inhabit more open areas, including human-made habitats like airfields, harvested agricultural fields, areas in open country, and wheat fields. These birds may even perch on different bushes and they like to stay away from snow during winter.

Who do American pipits live with?

American pipit males are the first ones to fly in the hope of finding nesting grounds before any snow has completely melted. After traveling to their migration spot, these birds look for a suitable nesting place for breeding.

American pipits are monogamous, so a male has to woo his potential mate through the iconic American pipit bird call. An adult male American pipit in-flight display is also used to attract a mate. During winter, American pipits may form big flocks.

How long does an American pipit live?

The average lifespan of the American pipit bird species is between three and five years.

How do they reproduce?

The American pipit's breeding season is mainly during spring when any snow has melted away. Nesting is usually done in a tundra region.

However, many American pipits will exclusively search for areas that are completely free from snow. These birds have a breeding season that is clubbed with its winter migration and this bird species builds its nest in a sheltered spot to keep it away from predators.

Another important thing about American pipit nesting is that these birds choose spots with a constant flow of insects available.

Both the American pipit male and female contribute to nesting, but the nest is almost exclusively built by the female bird. The nest can also be lined with feathers to make it softer.

Female birds lay about four to six eggs in one breeding season and these eggs are usually laid in April and May. The average incubation period is between 13-14 days. An American pipit baby is likely to stick with its parents for about 15 days after hatching, before going off alone.

What is their conservation status?

As per the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List, the current conservation status of the American pipit is of Least Concern.

American Pipit Fun Facts

What do American pipits look like?

The American pipit is not a very colorful bird. It is, in fact, almost indistinguishable from other pipit species that are commonly seen in a similar habitat. However, the American pipit spring plumage is a little different from the American pipit winter plumage.

The latter can be much fuller to help the bird withstand harsh winter weather. The underside of the American pipit is streaked with gray-brown spots. Their breast and flanks are especially streaked, so these birds are also known as Buff-bellied pipits in their Eurasian habitat.

North American pipit feet and bills are darker in color than the American pipit red legs found in the Japanese species. The tail of the American pipit is also much darker than the rest of its body, and the wings and the upper parts of the body have a gray hue.

While the bird is in flight, the outer white feathers of the tail become distinctly visible. Their eyes are black and have a faint white rim. During the breeding season, the streaking of their breasts can be reduced.

Kids love to read American pipit facts.

How cute are they?

American pipits might look plain, but the birds are, in fact, quite cute, especially because of their small size and the fluffy streaked plumage.

How do they communicate?

The American pipit is known for its diverse use of calls. Several different American pipit calls have been noted that the bird species use for different situations.

The male American pipit flight call of 'chwee' is given out as the bird perches on the ground. The most common song given out by these North American birds is the 'pi-pit' sound.

How big is an American pipit?

The average size of an American pipit is around 5.5-6.7 in (14-17 cm). In an American pipit vs. fox sparrow size comparison, the fox sparrow would just win! Both birds are of similar sizes but the latter one grows up to 7 in (17.78 cm).

How fast can an American pipit fly?

Flight is very important for American pipits as this is a migratory bird species. The average American pipit flying speed is around 20-30 mph (32-48 kph). In some cases, you can also find the American pipit hovering over its habitats.

How much does an American pipit weigh?

The average weight of American pipits is around 0.7-0.9 oz (19-26 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no different names for female and male birds of the American pipit species.

What would you call a baby American pipit?

An American pipit juvenile is called a chick.

What do they eat?

Like other pipits, the American pipit diet mainly consists of insects. However, these birds can also feed on seeds to sustain themselves.

During fall and winter, the American pipit may even rely on grass if nothing else is available. However, during their breeding season, this bird species makes sure to have enough food available near their nest. The American pipit may feed on different insect species such as mayflies, caddisflies, dragonflies, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, aphids, ants, and beetles.

Marine worms and crustaceans are also occasionally eaten by these birds. It is easy to spot hundreds of American pipit flocks foraging and feeding in the same area during the winter migration period.

Are they aggressive?

No, these aren't aggressive birds. However, they can become a little territorial, especially during their breeding season. An agitated American pipit call is a sign that the bird is unhappy or has sensed a particular threat.

Would they make a good pet?

Not really! This bird isn't a suitable pet as, even though American pipits aren't aggressive birds, they are still a wild bird species that would have a hard time living out of their natural habitat. However, if you see one flying close to your home, you can spare some seeds that an American pipit family will surely appreciate!

Did you know...

The American pipit of the Rubescens group is known for walking with its tail in a bobbing motion.

An alpine American pipit population living in the Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming, faced a snowstorm that buried about 17 of its nests for 24 hours. Miraculously all nestlings that were 11 days or older survived, along with some younger ones!

Climate change in the habitat of the American pipit will affect its migration and winter route by threatening the birds' ability to survive in their current habitats.

What was the American pipit formerly known as?

The American pipit was formerly classified as a species of water pipit. Other names for the bird also include brown lark, shore lark, and titlark.

What adaptation do American pipits have on their feet?

To adapt to the needs of their tundra and alpine habitats, American pipits have developed a long hind toe, which is called a hallux. Alongside this, these birds also have toenails that are similar to longspurs. Through this adaptation, the pipits can get adequate support while walking and foraging, especially on unstable ground, such as snowfields and mudflats.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the varied thrush or the glossy ibis.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our American pipit coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

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Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Deeti Gupta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Deeti Gupta picture

Deeti GuptaBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

A detail-oriented fact-checker with a research-oriented approach. Devika has a passion for creative writing, she has been published on multiple digital publishing platforms and editorials before joining the Kidadl team. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from St.Xavier's College, Deeti has won several accolades and writing competitions throughout her academic career.

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