African Pipit

Anthus cinnamomeus

The African Pipit, also sometimes called the Grassland Pipit, is a common but fairly inconspicuous bird of open savanna, short grasslands and dry floodplains, though it is also often encountered on sports fields, airfields, agricultural land, roadsides and recently burnt patches. They feed almost exclusively on insects and other small invertebrates.

African Pipits are monogamous, with the male using aerial displays and song to proclaim his breeding territory while the female builds the neat cup-shaped nest on the ground at the base of a bush or tuft of grass (they also sleep on the ground, often in a favourite location). When not breeding they form loose flocks that may number up to a hundred and often associate with birds of other species. African Pipits may breed at any time of the year, though mostly in spring and summer, with clutches of 1-5 eggs being incubated by both parents over a 2 week period. The chicks leave the nest at between 2 and 3 weeks old, but remain near it – and dependent on their parents – for a while longer. Parents will attempt to lure predators away from the chicks by feigning a broken wing. Adults measure around 16cm in length and weigh about 24g.

The IUCN lists the African Pipit as a species of least concern. It is found over much of sub-Saharan Africa as well as in the south-western corner of the Arabian Peninsula. African Pipits occur all over South Africa.

18 thoughts on “African Pipit

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thank you very much, Carol! LBJ’s like these trip me up more often than not. Digital photography is especially useful when you can study a photograph – and zoom in – to identify the species later at your own leisure.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Not to worry, Anne. I also still have to run through the checklist every time before I’m (fairly) confident that it is an African Pipit; 1 = spotted back, 2 = dark chin stripe, 3 = faintly spotted breast, 4 = yellowish (ugh, colourblind!) base to lower mandible.

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