Family Pipits and Wagtails (Motacillidae)

Least Concern

Buff-bellied Pipit (Anthus rubescens)


French: Pipit d’Amérique German: Pazifikpieper Spanish: Bisbita norteamericano

Alauda Rubescens


, 1771,

Pennsylvania, USA


Until comparatively recently treated as conspecific with A. spinoletta and A. petrosus. Recent DNA studies, as well as plumage differences#R, suggest that races may represent more than one species#R#R. On the other hand, pacificus is doubtfully distinct from nominate in terms of morphology, and merged with latter by some authors#R. Geographical border between nominate race and japonicus uncertain, and population breeding in extreme NE Siberia possibly belongs with former; further study needed. Proposed race geophilus (from Aleutians) synonymized with nominate#R; haermsi, described on basis of specimen from non-breeding area in C Asia (E Uzbekistan), best treated as synonym of japonicus. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. r. japonicus Temminck & Schlegel, 1847 – Buff-bellied Pipit – N, C & E Russia in SE Taymyr, W Siberian Plateau, and from E of R Lena, Yakutsk region and L Baikal E to Chukotskiy Peninsula, Commander Is, Sakhalin and Kuril Is; winters from Japan and Korea to S & SE continental Asia; recorded W to Israel and Turkey#R.
  • A. r. pacificus Todd, 1935 – W North America (Alaska, and Coast Range S to Oregon); winters S to W Mexico.
  • A. r. rubescens (Tunstall, 1771) – American Pipit – N & E Canada and extreme NE USA, rare in W Greenland; winters S to Central America.
  • A. r. alticola Todd, 1935 – C & S Rocky Mts (S from S British Columbia), also locally in mountains W to California (SW USA); winters S to Mexico.
  • Descriptive notes

    14–17 cm; c. 21 g. Nominate race in breeding plumage has broad whitish supercilium tinged pinkish-buff, buffish submoustachial stripe, variable dark malar stripe and... read more


    Song, in flight or from perch, a fast series of high notes repeated in phrases, e.g. “treeu-... read more


    North American races breed on treeless tundra with boulder-strewn fields and rocky areas, on barren... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, including grasshoppers, crickets and locusts (Orthoptera), beetles (Coleoptera), bugs (Hemiptera), including plant-lice and aphids... read more


    Laying mainly Jun–Jul. In brief song flight, male ascends to c. 20–30 m, glides back down to perch in long arc or loop. Nest... read more


    Migratory. American races winter on W coast S from extreme SW Canada (S British Columbia) and from... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common and widespread throughout most of range. Common to fairly common non-breeding visitor in Mexico; possibly breeds in NW Mexico (San Pedro Mart... read more

    Recommended citation

    Tyler, S. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Buff-bellied Pipit (Anthus rubescens). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 February 2020).