Short-billed pipit -- 短嘴鹨 (Anthus furcatus)

Short-billed pipit on grass
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Short-billed pipit fact file

Short-billed pipit description

GenusAnthus (1)

Easily confused with several other South American pipits, the short-billed pipit is streaked and mottled blackish and buffy-brown above, and mostly white below. The breast and flanks are strongly tinged ochraceous, and there is a distinctive area of bold, black streaking across the breast. A black stripe is normally prominent below the eye, and, as its name suggests, this species has a relatively short bill (2) (3). The sexes are alike in appearance but the two subspecies differ slightly, with Anthus furcatus brevirostris being generally buffier, and less greyish, than A. f. furcatus (2).

Length: 14 - 14.5 cm (2)
20 g (2)

Short-billed pipit biology

Like other pipits, the short-billed pipit forages by walking along the ground, picking food from the surface (2) (3). Small insects and other invertebrates are thought to form the bulk of its diet, but it probably also takes seeds. During the breeding season it occurs singly or in pairs, but at other times gathers together in flocks (2). Little is documented about the breeding behaviour of this species, but displaying males are known to hover as high as 60 to 80 metres in the air, for 10 to 30 minutes at a time, all the while giving a fine, musical song (2) (3). The grass nest is positioned in a depression in the ground, and the clutch size is up to four eggs. The seasonal movements of the short-billed pipit are poorly known, but it is thought to possibly undertake altitudinal movements in the Andes, while the occurence of individuals in Paraguay during the non-breeding season is evidence of some long-distance migratory behaviour (2).


Short-billed pipit range

The subspecies A. f. brevirostris occurs in central Peru, western Bolivia and north-western Argentina, while A. f. furcatus occurs in the lowlands of Argentina, east to extreme southeast Brazil and Uruguay (2).


Short-billed pipit habitat

Found in pastures, fields with short grass, and puna grasslands up to 4,300 metres above sea level (2) (3). This species generally occupies more arid habitat compared with other Andean pipits (2).


Short-billed pipit status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Short-billed pipit threats

Although the short-billed pipit is variously described as common and uncommon in different parts of its range, no major threats have been identified (2) (4).


Short-billed pipit conservation

There are no known conservation measures in place for the short-billed pipit.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

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A high-elevation grassland found throughout the Andes mountains, in South America.
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.


  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2009)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2004) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 9: Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. Ridgely, R.S. and Tudor, G. (1989) The Birds of South America, Volume I: The Oscine Passerines: Jays, Swallows, Wrens, Thrushes and Allies, Vireos, Wood-warblers, Tanagers, Icterids and Finches. The University of Texas Press, Austin.
  4. BirdLife International (June, 2009)

Image credit

Short-billed pipit on grass  
Short-billed pipit on grass

© Lip Kee Yap

Dr. Lip Kee Yap


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