Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Nicky Davis
Photo Copyright Nicky Davis

The American pipit, Anthus rubescens, occurs in both North America and Eurasia. North American populations breed in the tundra of northern Canada and Alaska, as well as in alpine habitats of the western United States, including appropriate habitats across Utah. Wintering occurs primarily on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North America, from southern Canada to Central America. Some American pipits do remain inland during winter, however, and the species is common in Utah year-round.

Breeding usually begins in early or mid-June. At the beginning of the breeding period, males perform repeated courtship displays, flying high into the air, and singing while gliding down with their legs extended and tails cocked. Nests are constructed of plant stems, grasses, and moss in a hole in a bank or cliff, or in a hole (or under a plant) on level ground. Usually four to six eggs are laid and incubated by the female alone for about 14 days. Young are tended by both parents, leaving the nest after 14 to 16 days and becoming independent after about a month. This bird eats primarily aquatic insects, seeds, and fruits.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Shuster, Inc., New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.