Short-billed pipit (Anthus furcatus)

GenusAnthus (1)
SizeLength: 14 - 14.5 cm (2)
Weight20 g (2)

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

Easily confused with several other South American pipits, the short-billed pipit is streaked and mottled blackish and buffy-brown above, and mostly white below. The breast and flanks are strongly tinged ochraceous, and there is a distinctive area of bold, black streaking across the breast. A black stripe is normally prominent below the eye, and, as its name suggests, this species has a relatively short bill (2) (3). The sexes are alike in appearance but the two subspecies differ slightly, with Anthus furcatus brevirostris being generally buffier, and less greyish, than A. f. furcatus (2).

The subspecies A. f. brevirostris occurs in central Peru, western Bolivia and north-western Argentina, while A. f. furcatus occurs in the lowlands of Argentina, east to extreme southeast Brazil and Uruguay (2).

Found in pastures, fields with short grass, and puna grasslands up to 4,300 metres above sea level (2) (3). This species generally occupies more arid habitat compared with other Andean pipits (2).

Like other pipits, the short-billed pipit forages by walking along the ground, picking food from the surface (2) (3). Small insects and other invertebrates are thought to form the bulk of its diet, but it probably also takes seeds. During the breeding season it occurs singly or in pairs, but at other times gathers together in flocks (2). Little is documented about the breeding behaviour of this species, but displaying males are known to hover as high as 60 to 80 metres in the air, for 10 to 30 minutes at a time, all the while giving a fine, musical song (2) (3). The grass nest is positioned in a depression in the ground, and the clutch size is up to four eggs. The seasonal movements of the short-billed pipit are poorly known, but it is thought to possibly undertake altitudinal movements in the Andes, while the occurence of individuals in Paraguay during the non-breeding season is evidence of some long-distance migratory behaviour (2).

Although the short-billed pipit is variously described as common and uncommon in different parts of its range, no major threats have been identified (2) (4).

There are no known conservation measures in place for the short-billed pipit.

For information on the conservation of birds across the Americas, see:



For more information on this and other bird species please 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:

  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2009)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2004) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 9: Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. Ridgely, R.S. and Tudor, G. (1989) The Birds of South America, Volume I: The Oscine Passerines: Jays, Swallows, Wrens, Thrushes and Allies, Vireos, Wood-warblers, Tanagers, Icterids and Finches. The University of Texas Press, Austin.
  4. BirdLife International (June, 2009)