[order] Passeriformes | [family] Motacillidae | [latin] Anthus pratensis | [UK] Meadow Pipit | [FR] Pipit farlouse | [DE] Wiesenpieper | [ES] Bisbita Común | [IT] Pispola | [NL] Graspieper

Graspieper determination

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The Meadow Pipit looks like a Song Thrush, but is only slightly larger than a Great Tit. The male and female Meadow Pipits are alike. Typically, the upperparts are grey to olive-brown in colour with darker streaks. The underparts are pale grey or buff coloured with bold streaks and spots on the breast and flanks. The belly and outer tail feathers are white. The legs are a dull pink. Juvenile Meadow Pipits are pinkish-buff and lack the dark streaks on the flanks. The Tree Pipit is very similar to the Meadow Pipit, but its general appearance is cleaner with more distinct markings, the legs are a paler pink and the hind claw is much shorter

Breeds in middle, upper middle, and upper latitudes of west Palearctic, from temperate through boreal to fringe of arctic climatic zones, and from continental to oceanic regimes, accepting rainy, windy, and chilly conditions, but avoiding ice and prolonged snow cover as well as torrid and arid areas, within rather narrow temperature range of 10-20 degrees. Eurasian mainland chooses, as a ground-dweller, open areas of rather low fairly complete vegetation cover. Avoids extensive bare rock, stones, sand, soil, and close-cropped grass of herbage, and on the other hand tall dense vegetation, including woods, telegraph wires, stone walls, and other points of vantage.

Anthus pratensis is a widespread breeder across much of central and northern Europe, which constitutes >75% of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is very large (>7,000,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in countries such as the United Kingdom, France and Sweden during 1990-2000, the species was stable or increased across most of its European range— including in Norway and Russia—and probably declined only slightly overall.

Diet based on invertebrates, with some plant seeds in autumn and winter. Feeds almost exclusively on ground, walking at steady rate picking invertebrates from leaves and plant stems. Occasionally takes insects in flight which it has disturbed but never flies after them.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 14,000,000-32,000,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

Onset of laying affected by temperature in last third of March, becoming later with increasing altitude and latitude. April-August in central and western Europe, April-May in Britain, June-July in Swedish Lapland. Nest site is on ground, usually concealed in vegetation. Nest, cup of grasses and other plant material, lined finer vegetation and hair, building by female. Clutch size 3-5 eggs incubated for 11-15 days by female only.

Winters from British Isles, continental Europe and s Russia s to n Africa, Near East and Iraq. (Sibley Charles G. 1996)