Berthelot's pipit (Anthus berthelotii)

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Berthelot's pipit
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Berthelot's pipit fact file

Berthelot's pipit description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyMotacillidae
GenusAnthus (1)

Berthelot’s pipit (Anthus berthelotii) is named after Sabin Berthelot, a French naturalist who lived on the Canary Islands (2).  It is the smallest of the Holarctic pipit species, but despite its small size it has a relatively long bill and tail (4).

The plumage of Berthelot’s pipit is not particularly striking, being mainly brownish-grey on the upperparts and uniformly whitish underneath. However, the breast is clearly streaked with thin, short lines of dark grey-brown (2) (4). There are also grey-brown streaks across the crown (4). The eye of Berthelot’s pipit is surrounded by a whitish ring (2) (4), while the ear-coverts are pale and framed by a broad brown-grey stripe behind the eye (4).

The male and female Berthelot’s pipit look very similar and are almost impossible to tell apart just by looking at the plumage (2) (3) (4). Juvenile Berthelot’s pipits resemble the adults, but with some small differences. For example, the streaks on the crowns of juveniles are slightly broader, darker and more defined than in the adults, while the back and rump tend to have more of a reddish-brown tinge. In addition, the streaks on the underparts of juvenile Berthelot’s pipits are spot-shaped rather than stripy (4).

Berthelot’s pipit performs its chattery song in flight, using a simple two-syllable note which sounds like ‘tsivrr(2) or ‘tzirlee’ and is repeated monotonously every second or so (3). The main call of Berthelot’s pipit has been described both as a ‘schrip(2) and a single ‘tchelee’ sound. The call is performed either in flight or on the ground, and is shorter and more explosive than the species’ song. Other calls produced by Berthelot’s pipit have been described as a short ‘chup’ and a rather nasal-sounding ‘cheep(3).

Size
Length: 13 - 16 cm (2) (3)
Wingspan: 21 - 24 cm (3)
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Berthelot's pipit biology

In its grassland habitat, this territorial pipit species forages on the ground for insects and seeds (3). Berthelot’s pipit is usually seen singly or in pairs, although during the non-breeding season the formation of small, loose groups sometimes occurs (4).

Berthelot’s pipit is a monogamous species with a breeding season extending from January through to August (3). The female Berthelot’s pipit builds the ground-based nest (2) (3), which is usually found under a low bush or stone. The cup-shaped nest is created from plant stems and lined with hair, wool and feathers (3). The female lays a clutch of two to five eggs (2) (3).

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Berthelot's pipit range

Berthelot’s pipit is endemic to Europe, where it is found only on the Canary Islands, Madeira (4) (5), and the Savage Islands (6).

There are two recognised subspecies of Berthelot’s pipit. Anthus berthelotti berthelotti is found on the Savage and Canary Islands, while Anthus berthelotti madeirensis is found on the Madeira Archipelago (6).

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Berthelot's pipit habitat

Berthelot’s pipit shows a preference for dry, open areas scattered with bushes, grass and herbaceous vegetation (2) (3) (4).

There are slight differences in the habitat preferences of the two separate populations of this species. On Madeira, Berthelot’s pipit is often found on upland plateaus of open grassland, but has also been reported frequenting overgrazed, dry grassland along the coast. The population on the Canary Islands can be found from sea level up to elevations of between 2,500 and 3,000 metres, and occupies a diverse range of habitats (4), including open cultivated land, dunes (3) (4), and shrub-covered mountain slopes (4).

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Berthelot's pipit status

Berthelot’s pipit is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1)

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

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Berthelot's pipit threats

There are currently no substantial threats to Berthelot’s pipit (5).

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Berthelot's pipit conservation

Berthelot’s pipit is listed on Annex II of the Bern Convention (7), which means that it receives strict protection. The population trend of Berthelot’s pipit appears to be stable (5), and there are therefore no known targeted conservation measures currently in place for this species.

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Find out more

More information on Berthelot’s pipit:

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Authentication

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:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Ear-coverts
The circle of small feathers covering the ear opening of a bird. Also called auriculars.
Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Herb
A small, non-woody, seed bearing plant in which all the aerial parts die back at the end of each growing season.
Holarctic
A biogeographical region encompassing North America, Europe and Asia.
Monogamous
Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.
Territorial
Describes an animal, a pair of animals or a group that occupies and defends an area.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (October, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. MobileReference (2008) The Illustrated Encyclopedia of European Birds: An Essential Guide to Birds of Europe. MobileReference, Boston.
  3. Avibirds European Birdguide online - Berthelot’s pipit (October, 2011)
    http://www.avibirds.com/euhtml/Berthelots_Pipit.html
  4. Alström, P. and Mild, K. (2003) Pipits and Wagtails of Europe, Asia and North America. Christopher Helm Publishers, London.
  5. BirdLife International (October, 2011)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=8438
  6. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Christie, D. (2004) Handbook of Birds of the World. Volume 9: Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  7. Council of Europe: Bern Convention (October, 2011)
    http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/EN/Treaties/Html/104.htm
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Image credit

Berthelot's pipit  
Berthelot's pipit

© Robin Chittenden / naturepl.com

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