Sonoran Desert Naturalist >>> Field Guide >>> Riparian and Water Birds >>> American Pipit

American Pipit

Anthus rubescens

Photo © by Sandy Zetlan

Photo taken by Sandy Zetlan near Bartlet Lake, Maricopa Co., Arizona.

For many years this bird was known as the Water Pipit. In deed this bird is rarely far from water. In the Sonoran Desert, American Pipit is fairly common foraging along the shores of rivers, lakes and streams. It's greatest abundance now, however, is in flooded agricultural fields. When flood irrigation is applied to alfalfa, for example, soil invertebrates are forced out to float on the surface and become easy prey for birds such as pipits. Occasionally a field will be found with hundreds of pipits along with many other kinds of birds.

The over-all color is brown and the size is slightly larger than a common House Sparrow. The breast is streaky, there is a distinct eye ring and the bill is fine-pointed. The curious habit of bobbing the tail up and down is another clue to identify this otherwise drab bird.

Part-Year Resident - migration from north - generally absent in summer

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2009