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Australian Pipit

Anthus australis

The Australian pipit, Anthus australis, presents as a rather modest-sized passerine, with a length spanning from 16 to 19 centimeters and a weight hovering around 40 grams. Its plumage is a muted brown with darker streaks adorning its upper parts, while its underparts are lighter with streaks across the breast. A distinctive pale stripe graces the area above the eye, complemented by dark malar and moustachial stripes. The bird's tail is notably long, featuring white outer feathers, and it exhibits a characteristic up-and-down wagging motion. Observers will note the legs are of a longish nature and exhibit a pinkish-brown hue, and the bill is slender with a brownish tint.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the Australian pipit, look for the pale supercilium (stripe over the eye), the dark streaking on a pale background, and the white outer tail feathers. The bird's habit of wagging its tail while standing or walking is also a key characteristic to watch for.

Habitat

The Australian pipit favors open spaces, thriving in environments such as grasslands, agricultural lands, roadsides, arid riverbeds, sand dunes, and open woodlands.

Distribution

This species is widely distributed across Australia and also makes its home in New Guinea. Within Australia, various subspecies are recognized, including A. a. australis, A. n. bilbali, and A. n. rogersi on the mainland, A. a. bistriatus in Tasmania, and A. a. exiguus in New Guinea.

Behaviour

The Australian pipit is a ground forager, actively seeking out small invertebrates like beetles, spiders, and insect larvae. It also partakes in seeds, with a preference for those from grasses. Its movements are sprightly and it is often seen wagging its tail while perched or on the move.

Song & calls

The vocal repertoire of the Australian pipit includes a sparrow-like chirruping call and a more prolonged, melodious 'tswee' call.

Breeding

Come August, the breeding season commences. The female constructs a cup-shaped nest, strategically placed at the base of vegetation or sheltered by a stone, using grass as the primary building material. The clutch typically consists of two to five eggs, with three or four being the norm. These eggs are buff-white with brown blotches and undergo an incubation period of 14 to 15 days. Post-hatching, both parents contribute to feeding the fledglings, which are ready to take flight within 14 to 16 days.

Similar Species

While the Australian pipit was once considered conspecific with Richard's, African, Mountain, and Paddyfield pipits under the collective name of Richard's pipit, Anthus novaeseelandiae, it is now recognized as a distinct species. Careful observation of local field marks and behaviors is necessary to distinguish it from these similar species.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Australian pipit is composed primarily of small invertebrates and seeds. Its foraging behavior is predominantly terrestrial, as it gleans sustenance from the ground.

Conservation status

The conservation status of the Australian pipit is not specified in the provided content. However, as a professional ornithologist, one would refer to the latest assessments by organizations such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to determine its current status.

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Australian Pipits on Birda

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A photo of a Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris)

Tawny Pipit

Anthus campestris
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