Long-tailed pipit -- 长尾鹨 (Anthus longicaudatus)

Long-tailed pipit in grass
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Long-tailed pipit fact file

Long-tailed pipit description

GenusAnthus (1)

The long-tailed pipit was described to science as recently as 1996, and remains very poorly known (2). A rather indistinct bird, the long-tailed pipit has darkish grey-brown plumage on the upperparts, with pale edges to the feathers, and brownish to brownish-white underparts. The wing feathers are dark brown with pale edgings and the tail is also dark brown. A broad whitish stripe extends above the eye, like an eyebrow, while a dark stripe runs through each dark brown eye. The bill is a darkish horn colour, as are the legs (2).

Length: 15 – 16 cm (2)
30.2 – 34 g (2)

Long-tailed pipit biology

The long-tailed pipit has been observed in flocks of 10 to 40 individuals, often with the buffy pipit (Anthus vaalensis), Richard’s pipit (Anthus richardi) and the long-billed pipit (Anthus similis). The long-tailed pipit can be distinguished from these closely-related birds by its exaggerated tail-wagging and horizontal rather than upright posture (2).

Nothing is known about the breeding biology of the long-tailed pipit, although it is presumed to breed in Zimbabwe before migrating to South Africa for the winter. It forages in grass for food, but what this bird feeds on is not known (2).


Long-tailed pipit range

The long-tailed pipit is known to occur in the Kimberley area of South Africa. It is thought to breed further north, on the Barotse floodplains in Zimbabwe (2) (3), but it has also been recorded from Zambia and Botswana (3).


Long-tailed pipit habitat

The breeding habitat of the long-tailed pipit is not known, but in its non-breeding area in South Africa it occurs on short, dry grassland including urban parks and playing fields (2).


Long-tailed pipit status

Classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Data Deficient


Long-tailed pipit threats

It is not known whether this species is threatened, and if it is, to what extent, and thus the IUCN have classified it as Data Deficient (1).


Long-tailed pipit conservation

Further research into this little-known bird is clearly needed. Surveys to clarify its breeding range and non-breeding range would help determine the status of the long-tailed pipit and whether it is threatened (3).

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

Find out more

For further information on the long-tailed pipit see:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:



  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2007)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2004) Handbook of the Birds of the World: Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails. Volume 9. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. BirdLife International (May, 2008)

Image credit

Long-tailed pipit in grass  
Long-tailed pipit in grass

© Per Smitterberg

Per Smitterberg


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