Tuesday 18 June
Yellow-breasted pipit (Anthus chloris)
Yellow-breasted pipit fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Yellow-breasted pipit description
The yellow-breasted pipit is a rare and secretive bird found in the high-altitude grasslands of South Africa and Lesotho (3). This species is most striking when in its breeding plumage, developing bright yellow underparts and wing linings (2) (4); in contrast, outside the breeding period, the underparts are brown or dull white with dark streaks (2). The upperparts, which remain greyish-brown throughout the year, are boldly dappled with dark spots and patches, giving a distinctive scaled appearance. The juvenile is generally pale brown and lacks the adult’s bright yellow colouring, having creamy brown underparts instead. The characteristic calls of the yellow-breasted pipit consist of a rapid, continuous chip chip chip and a quieter suwiep (4).
- Pipit à gorge jaune.
- Length: 16–18 cm (2)
Yellow-breasted pipit biology
The yellow-breasted pipit can generally be found skulking through its grassland habitat, foraging for prey such as mantises and beetles. When disturbed, it will attempt to escape on foot, running swiftly through the grass, only taking to the air when close to capture. One of the most remarkable behaviours of the yellow-breasted pipit is its acrobatic, aerial song display, during which it soars high into the air and cruises for a short distance, before diving vertically into the grass (3). These displays help to establish and maintain lifelong, monogamous pairs, which breed during the summer rains between November and February (2) (3). The nest is constructed on the ground from grass and rootlets, with a lining of hair and finer rootlets, and is usually hidden beneath a grass clump to conceal it from predators (3). In the dry winter months following the breeding season, the birds may aggregate into small flocks, with some spending the winter at the breeding sites, living around the snowline, and others migrating to lower elevations and to the coast of KwaZulu-Natal (2) (3).Top
Yellow-breasted pipit range
Found only in South Africa and Lesotho, the yellow-breasted pipit mainly occupies the Drakensberg mountain range within the South African provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, and the margins of Lesotho. Additional small populations are found in the north-east of the Eastern Cape and eastern parts of the Free State (2).Top
Yellow-breasted pipit habitatTop
Yellow-breasted pipit status
Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Yellow-breasted pipit threats
Historically, the yellow-breasted pipit was far more abundant and widespread than it is today. Sadly, the effects of intense grazing, commercial forest planting, and agricultural practices that involve the burning of grasslands, have greatly reduced and fragmented this species’ habitat. Such practices are only increasing in intensity; for example, in the Wakkerstroom district, a region which supports a large number of yellow-breasted pipits, over 100,000 hectares of grassland has been targeted for conversion to forest plantations. If this conversion goes ahead, it could prove to be catastrophic for the yellow-breasted pipit, as the land would no longer be suitable for it to breed (2) (3).Top
Yellow-breasted pipit conservation
The yellow-breasted pipit occurs within a number of public nature reserves, but the populations that they support are generally small. Currently, only Natal Drakensberg Park holds a significant population (2) (3), but plans are underway to create a one million hectare Grassland Biosphere Reserve in the threatened region around Wakkerstroom that will protect and conserve a much larger proportion of this species’ total population (6). Should the reserve be created it will need careful management, so that the livelihoods of the local people and the population of the yellow-breasted pipit can both be preserved. This is also true of the other areas supporting populations of this species, where the landowners must be given incentives to manage the grassland beneficially, rather than opt for the plantation of commercially valuable forests (3) (6).Top
Find out more
For more information about the proposed Grassland Biosphere Reserve 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:
- Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.
IUCN Red List (November, 2008)
BirdLife International (November, 2008)
- 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.
- Sinclair, I., Hockey, P.A.R., Hayman, P. and Arlott, N. (2005) The Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town.
BirdLife International (November, 2008)
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
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.