Tawny Pipit

Tawny Pipit
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris, Chonghu’er Xiang (48.160361, 87.119680), Xinjiang, May. (Craig Brelsford)

Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris breeds Western Europe to Mongolia, in China in Xinjiang in Tianshan and Altai. Winters sub-Saharan Africa to India. ID & COMPARISON Large, slim, long-tailed pipit with dark lores, in China most likely to be confused with Richard’s Pipit A. richardi. Adult largely unstreaked and has a black loral stripe, as well as moustachial and malar stripes, and prominent buff supercilium. Head and upperparts greyish-brown with prominent blackish centers to median coverts, breast and flanks buff, belly slightly paler with yellow tinge. Streaking relatively indistinct on crown and mantle; some individuals have a few streaks on breast. Richard’s Pipit, Blyth’s Pipit A. godlewskii, and Paddyfield Pipit A. rufulus are browner above and more boldly streaked above and on breast and lack loral stripe. Juvenile Tawny more heavily streaked above and on breast than adult and therefore easily distinguishable from adult. Juvenile however resembles the other pipits (both juvenile and adult) even more and is most readily distinguished by the dark loral stripe. BARE PARTS Bill grey above, pink below; legs long, pink. VOICE Song, sung in song flight or from perch, two to three notes repeated at intervals: zerlee, zerlee, zerlee. Distinctive call, chirlip, reminiscent of House or Tree Sparrow. — Craig Brelsford


shanghaibirding.com 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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