Paddyfield Pipit

paddyfield pipit
稻田鹨 (dào tiánliù)
Anthus rufulus
16 cm

The paddyfield pipit is very similar to the Richard’s pipit in morphology, behavior, and habitat preference. Range extends from Pakistan to Singapore, with nominate race in Yunnan; in grassy habitats, generally drier than Richard’s pipit. Crown and upperparts grey-brown with black streaking (is generally slightly greyer above and has less heavy streaking than Richard’s). Supercilium and lores buffish, but lores may show faintly black (rarely so in Richard’s). Black malar stripe broadens into triangle at base. Throat white; breast and flanks buffy-brown, with streaks on breast usually sparser in paddyfield than in Richard’s. Median and greater coverts have pointy black centers with white or buff fringes. Long tail (slightly shorter than Richard’s) has white edges. Breeding Richard’s pipits in southern China (ssp. sinensis) are even more similar to Blyth’s than northern races. Bill grey above, yellow below; thinner and pointier than bill of Richard’s. Pink legs shorter than Richard’s; hind claw also shorter. Song much like that of Richard’s pipit, but “chep-chep” call distinctive. The Richard’s often hovers before landing (paddyfield rarely hovers). Tawny pipit occurs in China only in Xinjiang and has a black loral stripe and fainter streaking. Blyth’s pipit has more distinct wingbars. Upland pipit occurs almost exclusively on grassy mountainsides, is a stockier bird, and is more heavily streaked above, showing more streaking on flanks and less obvious wing bands. — Craig Brelsford

THE PIPITS AND WAGTAILS OF CHINA has research on all 21 species in the family Motacillidae in China. Click any link below:

Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus
Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
Eastern Yellow Wagtail M. tschutschensis
Citrine Wagtail M. citreola
Grey Wagtail M. cinerea
White Wagtail M. alba
Japanese Wagtail M. grandis
White-browed Wagtail M. maderaspatensis
Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardi
Paddyfield Pipit A. rufulus
Blyth’s Pipit A. godlewskii
Tawny Pipit A. campestris
Meadow Pipit A. pratensis
Tree Pipit A. trivialis
Olive-backed Pipit A. hodgsoni
Pechora Pipit A. gustavi
Rosy Pipit A. roseatus
Red-throated Pipit A. cervinus
Buff-bellied Pipit A. rubescens
Water Pipit A. spinoletta
Upland Pipit A. sylvanus


Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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