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Alpine Pipit

Anthus gutturalis

The Alpine Pipit, Anthus gutturalis, presents itself as a medium-sized avian resident of the alpine grasslands. Its plumage is a harmonious blend of light brown across the back and wings, adorned with tan tips that echo the hues of its chest. This bird is equipped with a slender, pointed beak, ideally suited for its dietary habits. Beneath its tail, one can observe the medium-length red legs, culminating in long-toed, pronged feet, a testament to its adeptness at navigating its mountainous home. Notably, the Alpine Pipit boasts three elongated tail feathers, each extending approximately two inches from its posterior, adding to its distinctive silhouette.

Identification Tips

When observing the Alpine Pipit, look for the strong tan coloration of its chest, which matches the tan tips of its back feathers and wings. Its red legs and long-toed feet are also key identifiers, particularly useful when the bird is spotted from below. The pointed beak and trio of long tail feathers further distinguish this species from its congeners.

Habitat

The Alpine Pipit is indigenous to the high-altitude grasslands of Papua New Guinea. It thrives in the upper echelons of mountain ranges, typically between 3,200 and 4,500 meters above sea level, although it may occasionally descend to elevations as low as 2,500 meters. This terrestrial bird favors areas peppered with shrubs and short grasses.

Distribution

This species is endemic to New Guinea, specifically within the Indonesian territory of Papua New Guinea. It is a highland specialist, found in the most elevated parts of the mountain ranges within this region.

Behaviour

The Alpine Pipit exhibits a ground-foraging behavior, often seen waddling in search of food. It is not uncommon to find these birds foraging in groups. When feeling threatened, they take flight to nearby rocks, bushes, or trees at the forest's edge. A unique foraging posture includes holding their bill at a 45-degree angle towards the sky.

Song & calls

In flight, just above the ground, the Alpine Pipit vocalizes a high-pitched, quick series of "tsee tsee" sounds. This bird song, characterized by its pitch and repetition, can be heard over extended periods.

Breeding

Breeding for the Alpine Pipit occurs during the wet season, with nestlings found in April, September, and October. Their nests, composed of fine grass, are strategically placed on steep banks. This species does not migrate, remaining in the same locales throughout the year.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Alpine Pipit is varied, including insects and their larvae, arthropods, grass seeds, berries, and green herbaceous matter. Their foraging technique is primarily terrestrial, as they search for food on the ground.

Conservation status

The Alpine Pipit is classified as "Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List. Despite its restricted range to West Papua, the population trend appears stable, indicating no immediate threats to its survival.

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Tawny Pipit

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