Blyth’s pipit (Anthus godlewskii)
|Size||Length: 15 - 17 cm (2)|
|Weight||17 - 30.5 g (2)|
Blyth’s pipit is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).
A small, slender and cryptically coloured bird, Blyth’s pipit (Anthus godlewskii) is named in honour of the English zoologist, Edward Blyth, a well-known contemporary of the eminent Charles Darwin (3). Blyth’s pipit is grey-brown above with streaks of blackish-brown, and is buff-coloured below, becoming more orange-buff on the flanks, with pronounced dark streaking on the upper breast. There is a creamy stripe that extends from the unmarked, pale area between the eye and the beak, towards the back of the head. A thin black streak extends backwards and downwards from the base of the bill, with a second broad, buff-coloured stripe just below. There is a narrow blackish stripe and patch on the cheeks.
The wing feathers are buff on the edges and tips, and each wing bears two pale, almost indistinct bars. The tail is blackish-brown, tinged reddish on the edges of the central pair of feathers and with the outer two pairs edged and tipped in buff. The legs are pale- or yellowish-pink, and the short, pointed bill is dark grey above and pinker with a darkish grey tip below. Blyth’s pipit produces a variety of calls, including several chup, chep or choop sounds, given in flight and often combined with a longer psheeu note (2).
Blyth’s pipit is known from Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates. It is a rare vagrant to Europe and the Middle East (4) (5).
Blyth’s pipit typically inhabits open landscapes with little vegetation, such as dry, rocky mountain slopes and stony, gravelly areas of lowland steppe (2) (6).
A remarkable long-distance migrant, Blyth’s pipit undertakes an impressive journey each year from its breeding grounds in Russia and Mongolia, migrating singly or in small flocks to its wintering grounds on the Indian subcontinent, where it arrives in early September (2) (6). The breeding season begins in May, with the female laying between three and five eggs in a well camouflaged grass cup on the ground. The eggs are incubated, usually by the female, for a period of around 12 to 14 days (2), during which time the male will bring food back to the nest (6). Strongly territorial, Blyth’s pipit will defend territorial boundaries in the area used for feeding and nesting (6). Blyth’s pipit typically feeds on small invertebrates and seeds, foraging on the ground and picking up food items as it walks (2).
Members of the Motacillidae family are known for their aggressive territorial flight displays and elaborate courtship song flights (6). During display, Blyth’s pipit flies rapidly up into the air, rising to between 10 and 20 metres high, and will hover and sing loudly before parachuting steeply back down to the ground with its wings outstretched (2) (6).
Blyth’s pipit is not considered globally threatened, and is thought to be widespread and locally common throughout much of its range. There is some evidence that the breeding range of Blyth’s pipit may be extending further south (2).
There are no known conservation measures in place for Blyth’s pipit.
To find out more about Blyth’s pipit and other birds, see:
To find out more about conservation in the United Arab Emirates, see:
The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi:
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- Cryptic colouration: colouration that makes animals difficult to detect against their background. The colouration may provide camouflage against a background or break up the outline of the body. Both can occur in a single animal, and tend to reduce predation.
- Incubate: to keep eggs warm so that development is possible.
- Invertebrates: animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones), echinoderms, and others.
- Steppe: a biome (or subdivision of the Earth’s surface) that is composed of a swathe of temperate grassland stretching from Romania to China.
- Territorial: describes an animal, a pair of animals or a colony that occupies and defends an area.
- Vagrant: found occasionally outside normal range.
IUCN Red List (December, 2010)
- del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Christie, D. (2004) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 9: Contingas to Pipits and Wagtails. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
Darwin Correspondence Project (December, 2010)
- Perlman, Y. (2001) Blyth’s pipit Anthus godlewski: a new species for Thailand. Forktail, 17: 115-116.
BirdLife International (December, 2010)
- Perrins, C. (2009) Encyclopedia of Birds. Oxford University Press, Oxford.