In common with other pipits, Sprague’s pipit is a somewhat inconspicuous, ground-dwelling bird, typically foraging alone throughout the day (2) (3). Arthropods are gleaned from the ground whilst walking or running through vegetation, although seeds may also be eaten during the winter (3) (4). If a predator is seen, rather than fleeing, Sprague’s pipit will often remain motionless, relying on its cryptic plumage to avoid detection (4).
A short-distance migratory species, Sprague’s pipit spends winter in the hotter, southernmost parts of its range, before arriving back at the northern breeding grounds around the third week of April. It is at this time that the renowned territorial display of the male Sprague’s pipit can be seen. Rising 50 to 100 metres from the ground in an undulating motion, the male bird circles over its territory for up to three hours at a time, all the while flapping and singing a display song (3) (7) (8). On pairing up, the male bird defends a breeding territory, spending up to three hours a day performing defensive flights and calls (4). A cup shaped nest of fine, woven grasses is constructed on the ground by the female, and an average clutch of four or five oval, greyish coloured eggs are incubated by the female for around 14 days, while the male regularly brings food back to the nest (3) (4) (6) (7). The young chicks will remain in the nest for some nine to 14 days, being raised on a diet of grasshoppers and crickets, before fledging through June and August (3) (6).