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A photo of a Richard's Pipit (Anthus richardi)
Richard's Pipit

Richard's Pipit

Anthus richardi

The Richard's pipit is a medium-sized passerine, a member of the pipit genus Anthus within the family Motacillidae. It is a slender bird, often seen standing very upright, measuring 17–20 cm in length, and weighing between 25–36 grams. Its wingspan stretches from 29 to 33 cm. The plumage is primarily brown above and pale below, with distinctive dark streaks adorning the upperparts and breast. The belly and flanks remain unmarked. This species is characterized by its long yellow-brown legs, a lengthy tail with white outer feathers, and a robust dark bill with a yellowish base on the lower mandible. The hindclaw is notably long and fairly straight. The face features a strong pattern with pale lores and supercilium, contrasted by a dark eyestripe, moustachial stripe, and malar stripe. Two wingbars are present, formed by the pale tips of the wing-coverts.

Identification Tips

When identifying Richard's pipit, look for the long legs and tail, the long straight hindclaw, and the strong facial markings. The bird's undistinguished appearance on the ground can be deceptive, but the dark streaks on the upperparts and breast, along with the plain belly and flanks, are key features. In flight, observe the strong and undulating pattern and listen for the distinctive "shreep" call.

Habitat

Richard's pipit favors open country, particularly flat lowland areas. It thrives in grasslands, steppes, and cultivated lands, with a preference for more fertile, moist environments.

Distribution

This species breeds in the East Palearctic, including southern Siberia, Mongolia, parts of Central Asia, and northern, central, and eastern China. It migrates to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia for the winter, with sightings as far south as Sri Lanka, Singapore, and northern Borneo. It is a rare but regular vagrant to western Europe.

Behaviour

Richard's pipit is typically found alone or in small groups. It is a ground feeder, primarily insectivorous, but will occasionally consume seeds. It is also known to make short flights to catch flying insects.

Song & Calls

The call of Richard's pipit is a loud, explosive "shreep," reminiscent of a house sparrow's chirp. Its song consists of a series of monotonous buzzy notes, delivered during an undulating song-flight.

Breeding

The nest of Richard's pipit is constructed from grass or moss and is typically situated on the ground under a grass tussock.

Similar Species

Richard's pipit can be confused with other large pipits such as Blyth's pipit and paddyfield pipit. Blyth's pipit has a shorter bill, legs, and tail, a more curved hindclaw, and less white on the tail. It also has more streaking on the upperparts and a quieter, less harsh call. Paddyfield pipit is smaller with a shorter bill and tail, less breast streaking, and a quieter call.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of Richard's pipit is mainly composed of insects, which it forages for on the ground. It will also consume a small amount of seeds.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies Richard's pipit as Least Concern, indicating that the species does not currently face a significant risk of extinction.

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