IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)


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Water pipit

The water pipit (Anthus spinoletta) is a small passerine bird which breeds in the mountains of southern Europe and southern temperate Asia across to China. It is a short-distance migrant moving to wet open lowlands such as marshes and flooded fields in winter. Some birds migrate north to Britain for winter, taking advantage of the warm oceanic climate[citation needed].

Like most other pipits, this is an undistinguished looking species on the ground, mainly brown above and dark streaked buff below. It has dark legs, white outer tail feathers and a longish dark bill. In summer it has a distinctive breeding plumage, with a pinkish breast, grey head and pale supercilium.[2][3]

The Eurasian rock pipit's subspecies littoralis in summer plumage is very close in outward appearance to the water pipit. They can be told apart by their song,[4] and occupy different habitat types even when they occur in the same general area.[5] The water pipit is also much less approachable than the Eurasian rock pipit, rising high and quickly leaving the vicinity when approached. Water and buff-bellied pipit do not co-occur except in a small area in Central Asia.[6]

This species is insectivorous. Its call is an explosive "fit", like Eurasian rock pipit. Its song is similar, but it consisting of maybe 5 "blocks" of just about half a dozen notes each (the Eurasian rock pipit has fewer, but longer blocks); it ends either with no or with repeated trills.[5]

Formerly included in the water pipit were the subspecies now separated as rock pipit and buff-bellied pipit.[7] The former is more closely related to the water pipit than the latter, as indicated by external[2] and molecular characteristics.[8]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Anthus spinoletta". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Per Alström & Krister Mild (1996). "The identification of Rock, Water and Buff-bellied Pipits". Alula 2 (4): 161–175. 
  3. ^ Per Alström & Krister Mild (1987). "Some notes on the taxonomy of the Water Pipit complex". Proceedings of the 4th International Identification Meeting. Eilat: International Birdwatching Center. pp. 47–48. 
  4. ^ V. V. Leonovich, G. V. Deminia & O. D. Veprintseva (1997). "On the taxonomy and phylogeny of pipits (Genus Anthus, Motacillidae, Aves) in Eurasia". Biulleten Moskovskogo obshchestva ispytatelei prirody. Otdel biologicheskii (in Russian) 102 (2): 14–22. 
  5. ^ a b R. Bijlsma (1977). "Voorkomen en oecologie van Anthus spinoletta en A. s. littoralis in de uiterwaarden van de Rijn bij Wageningen". Limosa (in Dutch) 50: 127–136. 
  6. ^ A. A. Nazarenko (1978). "On species validity of Anthus rubescens Tunstall (Aves: Motacillidae)". Zoologicheskiy Zhurnal (in Russian) 57: 1743–1744. 
  7. ^ George Sangster, Alan G. Knox, Andreas J. Helbig & David T. Parkin (2002). "Taxonomic recommendations for European Birds". Ibis 144 (1): 153–159. doi:10.1046/j.0019-1019.2001.00026.x. 
  8. ^ G. Voelker (1999). "Molecular evolutionary relationships in the avian genus Anthus (Pipits: Motacillidae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 11 (1): 84–94. doi:10.1006/mpev.1998.0555. PMID 10082613. 


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