American Pipit

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People sometimes ask me if I am a birder, or they refer to me as one.  I am not.  In my spare time I am a wildlife photographer,  but not a birder.

The birders that I have met are generally passionate about observing as many species as they can.  They keep lists of what they’ve observed and they research their finds with painstaking precision.  I have great respect for birders’ knowledge and for the intensity with which they seek out new species to observe and catalogue.

I, on the other hand, am interested in observing and photographing whatever I encounter, but I make no lists of my finds and, with exceptions, I rarely search for new species to photograph.  When I’m in a particular area I’ll happily photograph whatever crosses my path, but I don’t feel jilted, for the most part, if a particular local species doesn’t show up.

That said, I always take pleasure in making pictures of something that is new to me.

The other day, I had an encounter with a species that I’d never photographed previously, even if it is a fairly common winter resident of our area.  This is the American Pipit.

American Pipits are by no means rare birds.  They winter throughout the southern United States.  In summer, they migrate north to the tundras of Alaska and Canada, and to parts of the Pacific Northwest, where they breed.  These birds like open country.  One finds them in fields and in brushy areas.  Typically, they travel in small flocks.

I’d probably seen this species on previous occasions but simply failed to take note of it.  The other day, I was driving on a dirt road in the farmlands when I saw about a dozen sparrow-like birds foraging on the ground.  At first, I thought that they were sparrows, but as I drew close I realized that these birds weren’t at all sparrow-like.

American Pipits are about the same size as sparrows but their morphology is very different.  Their beaks are decidedly un sparrow-like, relatively long and narrow, more like warblers’ beaks than sparrows’  wedge-shaped beaks.  Pipits have longer legs in proportion to their bodies and leaner frames than do sparrows. Pipits are omnivorous.  They forage on the ground for seeds and insects.

I was delighted to make the acquaintance of this handsome little bird.

Images made with a Canon 5Div, 400mm f4 DO II lens+1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO), ISO 320, f6.3 @ 1/2000.


One Reply to “American Pipit”

  1. Sherry Felix says:

    Your birding style is much like mine. I haven’t seen a pop it yet. Nice one.

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