Family Pipits and Wagtails (Motacillidae)

Least Concern

Buffy Pipit (Anthus vaalensis)


French: Pipit du Vaal German: Vaalpieper Spanish: Bisbita del Vaal

Anthus vaalensis


, 1900,

Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Was in the past confused with A. leucophrys; see comments therein. Race chobiensis possibly better merged with neumanni, and marungensis possibly indistinguishable from either of those two. Proposed race daviesi (Eastern Cape, South Africa) included in nominate, and muhingae (SE DRCongo) in neumanni; birds of SE Botswana and NE South Africa sometimes separated as race clanceyi. The taxon “Long-tailed Pipit Anthus longicaudatus”, recognized in HBW, has been shown to be an amalgam of the present species and A. similis, and is invalid#R. Geographical limits of races difficult to establish; boundaries between listed ranges tentative. Six subspecies provisionally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. v. neumanni R. Meinertzhagen, 1920 – Angolan plateau and SC & S DRCongo; moves S to Namibia and Botswana in the rains.
  • A. v. chobiensis (Roberts, 1932) – SE DRCongo, W Tanzania and Malawi S to SE Angola, extreme NE Namibia, N Botswana, Zimbabwe and, rare, adjacent Mozambique.
  • A. v. marungensis Chapin, 1937 – N Zambia E to S Tanzania.
  • A. v. namibicus Clancey, 1990 – NE & C Namibia.
  • A. v. exasperatus Winterbottom, 1963 – NE Botswana; migrates to W Zimbabwe.
  • A. v. vaalensis Shelley, 1900 – S Botswana E South Africa and adjacent Mozambique.
  • Descriptive notes

    15–18·5 cm; 23–36·6 g. Large pipit with plain upperparts. Nominate race has broad buff supercilium, dusky lores, sandy-brown ear-coverts, dark brown mousta­... read more


    Song a series of very high rapid “trowhee” with well-spaced phrases; also described as rather dry... read more


    Open grassland and overgrazed areas with bare ground, fallow land, recently burnt areas and edges... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects and other invertebrates; also seeds. Beetles (Coleoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), ants (Hymenoptera), termites (Isoptera) and... read more


    Lays before or during rains in S Africa, Jun–Oct in Zambia, Jul–Feb (mainly Sept–Dec) in Zimbabwe, Aug–Dec in South... read more


    Little known; some populations thought to be sedentary, and others to make regular movements. Some... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Status not well known; apparently uncommon to locally common. May have benefited from the clearance of land for agriculture and stock... read more

    Recommended citation

    Tyler, S. (2020). Buffy Pipit (Anthus vaalensis). 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 20 February 2020).