Water Pipit

Scientific name: Anthus spinoletta

Did you know: The Water Pipit, a winter visitor to the UK, has a unique altitudinal migration pattern, ranging from the mountains of Southern Europe to lowlands and wet open areas during the colder months.

What Do Water Pipits Look Like? (How to Identify Them)

The Water Pipit is a robust, greyish-brown bird with cream/buff, brown, and white feathers. It boasts a distinctive pale stripe over its eye, complemented by a slender bill and dark legs. 

During the breeding season, it exhibits weak streaks on its upperparts and pale pink-buff underparts. In winter, the head turns grey-brown, and the underparts become white with light brown streaks on the breast and flanks.

Differences Between Male And Female Water Pipits

Male and female Water Pipits are nearly identical, making it challenging to distinguish between them based on appearance. The subtle differences that do exist are in the overall grey hue of the female’s head, which is slightly greyer on average.

What Do Water Pipits Eat?

Water Pipits primarily feed on small invertebrates found on the ground or vegetation. Their diet includes insects and larvae, with occasional instances of catching flying insects. Additionally, they incorporate some plant material into their diet.

Where Do Water Pipits Live? (Including Migration Info)

Breeding in the mountains of Southern Europe and Asia, the Water Pipit’s preferred habitats include alpine pastures and high meadows with short grass. They breed at altitudes between 615–3,200 metres. 

During winter, these birds migrate to lower altitudes or wet open lowlands. In the UK, around 190 Water Pipits winter, mainly in southern and eastern England. They showcase a unique migration pattern, with some individuals moving northwest or west, possibly influenced by milder coastal climates.

Bird Calls & Songs (The Unique Voices of Water Pipits)

The Water Pipit’s song is a distinctive sequence of four or five blocks, each comprising about six repetitions of different short notes. They deliver these songs from a perch or in flight. The call is a sharp “dzip” or similar, slightly harsher than the calls of related pipit species. 

The subtle differences in their calls contribute to their unique identification.

Fun Water Pipit Facts (Kid-Friendly)

  • Their conspicuous head markings and unique calls help birdwatchers identify Water Pipits.
  • Water Pipits are mainly monogamous, with pair bonds extending into winter. However, they often choose different partners for second broods in summer.
  • These birds are fastidious about cleanliness, bathing in water and using sand and dust to maintain their plumage.
  • When faced with predators like Common Kestrels and Eurasian Sparrowhawks, Water Pipits may freeze or use distraction-lure displays to protect their nests.

Water Pipit Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile

Facts About The Water Pipit

Diet: Insects and larvae.
Bird Family: Pipits and wagtails
Length: 17cm
Wingspan: 22.5-28cm
Weight: 20-36g
Scientific Name: Anthus spinoletta

The Water Pipit Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • October
  • November
  • December