Saturday 15 June
Red-throated pipit (Anthus cervinus)
Red-throated pipit fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Red-throated pipit description
Throughout the summer months the red-throated pipit displays a wonderful rusty red throat and face, a feature which distinguishes this bird from its close relatives and makes it easy to spot and admire. However, the magnificent flush of colour is all but lost during the winter season and the red-throated pipit takes on a more drab appearance, when individuals can be identified by the bold, blackish streaks on the breast and flanks (4). The sexes are generally similar in appearance, although the male tends to flush a deeper red and retains a tinge of pink throughout the winter, whereas the female does not. The red-throated pipit has a distinctive flight song, which is used during the courtship ritual, as well as a variety of other calls. The main call starts with a short sounding tew and is followed by a long, high pitched, piercing note, which would be pronounced as a tseeaz (2).
- Pipit à gorge rousse.
Red-throated pipit biology
The red-throated pipit is a migratory species and each year this remarkable little bird flies from its breeding grounds in Europe to wintering grounds in sub-Saharan Africa and back again. This species is primarily insectivorous, and caterpillars in particular make up a large portion of its diet. It also feeds on invertebrates such as beetles, spiders and snails and supplements these juicy prey items with grass seeds (2). When foraging for such food items, the red-throated pipit offers a quaint sight as it walks quickly along the ground in a horizontal pose, wagging its tail as it goes. Although this tiny bird is most commonly seen on the ground, during the mating season it reveals its excellent flying ability. The male performs a magnificent flight display in which it climbs to a staggering 20 metres, before parachuting down to the ground with the wings uplifted and singing loudly, falling silent only when it reaches the ground (2).
The red-throated pipit is a monogamous species; each male will mate with only one female in a breeding season and the pair will work together to raise their offspring. The male makes a burrow in the ground and the female proceeds to build the cup-shaped nest within it. Both partners are active in gathering nest material which includes grass, feathers, hair and moss. The female then lays a clutch of around five to seven eggs, which are usually speckled brown, and incubates them for up to two weeks. Once the chicks hatch, both parents forage for food for the nestlings. During the non-breeding season, red-throated pipits form loose flocks (2) (4).Top
Red-throated pipit range
The red-throated pipit’s breeding range lies within the Arctic Circle, across northern Europe and Asia. It spends winter in Africa, India and south-east Asia (1) (5). It may also occasionally be seen in Australia (1).Top
Red-throated pipit habitat
The red-throated pipit mainly inhabits wet and marshy areas, damp grasslands and sometimes drier, short-grass areas. During the breeding season, it migrates to areas of wet tundra (4).Top
Red-throated pipit status
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Red-throated pipit threats
There are currently no threats to the global population of the red-throated pipit. The habitat in which this species lives is not under serious threat, nor is its prey in rapid decline. A survey carried out in 2004 estimated the European population of this species to comprise between 3,000,000 and 9,000,000 individuals (1).Top
Red-throated pipit conservation
There are currently no known projects dedicated to the protection and conservation of the red-throated pipit.Top
Find out more
To find out about bird conservation around the world 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:
- Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, and spiders.
- Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.
IUCN Red List (March, 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.
- Robinson, R.A. (2005) BirdFacts: Profiles of Birds Occurring in Britain and Ireland. BTO Research Report 407, BTO, Thetford.
- The Wildlife Trust. (1998) Birds of Britain and Europe. Collins and the Wildlife Trusts, London.
- Hutson, H.P.W. (1931) The birds of Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Naturalist, 2(4): 228-233.
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
This species is featured in:
This species is featured in Jewels of the UAE, which showcases biodiversity found in the United Arab Emirates in association with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.