Tree Pipit

Anthus trivialis

15cm

Appearance

When compared to the Meadow Pipit, the Tree Pipit is bigger but more streamlined, the bill is thicker, and the head markings are more distinct. It is sandy-brown above with dark streaking, the breast, flanks and throat have a yellowish tinge and there are bold, sparse streaks, the belly is white, and there is a pale mask-like marking around the eye. The legs are pinkish and the outer feathers of the tail are white. Juveniles resemble adults.

Habitat

Breeding territories include heathland and woodland. It will usually not stray too far from an area with suitable song posts.

Character

Often finds perches in foliage or more exposed trees, and songflight begins as birds take off from these positions. It flies steeply upwards and bombs downwards with its legs streaming, usually to land on the same perch, or at least one near it. Performs a similar cycle if alarmed. Frequently feeds on the ground, and its movement are less fluid than the Meadow Pipit's. Generally not very sociable, but may migrate in modest groups.

Food

Diet includes weevils, beetles, caterpillars, ants, spiders, seeds and berries.

Breeding

Female usually lays 4 or 5 eggs which she incubates for 12-14 days. Both adults tend to and feed the hatchlings, which can fly at about 12-14 days old, though they depart the nest prior to this. A second brood may be raised.

Population

Majority of birds arrive in the region in April and May and depart towards the end of summer. Some European birds are passage visitors on their way to Africa. It is believed that about 88 000 pairs of Tree Pipits breed in Britain.

Observation Tips

Has a habit of twitching the tail, down and up, down and up, when it is perched; this can be a diagnostic factor when separating this species from others. However, familiarisation with the bird's call and song is perhaps the key way to its identification.

Voice

Utters a call most often heard in flight, a buzzing 'tezzzt', but may also be sung from a perch before taking off. Has some singular 'zit, zit, zit' sounds too, and a 'swey-u, swey-u' on landing.
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