Family Pipits and Wagtails (Motacillidae)

Least Concern

Bush Pipit (Anthus caffer)


French: Pipit cafre German: Buschpieper Spanish: Bisbita cafre
Other common names: Bushveld Pipit

Anthus caffer


, 1850,

Mohapoani, by Limpopo River, South Africa


May form a clade with A. brachyurus and A. sokokensis. Extent of distribution uncertain, and geographical variation and limits of races poorly understood. Birds from Angola included with mzimbaensis, but smaller and less pale below, almost certainly involve an undescribed race; in addition, birds from extreme SE DRCongo and adjacent Zambia and N Malawi may represent an undescribed race; further study required. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. c. australoabyssinicus Benson, 1942 – S Ethiopia (highlands E of Rift Valley).
  • A. c. blayneyi van Someren, 1919 – S Kenya and N Tanzania.
  • A. c. mzimbaensis Benson, 1955 – Angola (Cuanza Norte S to N Huíla, E to N Moxico), NW Malawi, extreme SE DRCongo and Zambia S to E Botswana and C Zimbabwe.
  • A. c. caffer Sundevall, 1850 – extreme SE Botswana, extreme SW Zimbabwe and NE South Africa.
  • A. c. traylori Clancey, 1964 – lowlands in NE South Africa (E Limpopo, E Mpumalanga and NE KwaZulu-Natal), E Swaziland and extreme S Mozambique (S of R Limpopo).
  • Descriptive notes

    12·5–13·5 cm; 16–18 g. Small pipit with warm-coloured upperparts. Nominate race has indistinct buffish super­cilium, buff-flecked dark brown... read more


    Song, from tree perch, a repeated phrase of 2–3 notes, first note lower, “werrp-cheer,... read more


    Tree and bush savanna or open woodland with rather sparse ground cover, often with bare sandy... read more

    Food and feeding

    Prey consists of small insects and other invertebrates. Forages on the ground among leaves, in grass or on bare patches; when disturbed,... read more


    Poorly known. Laying dates Mar–Apr in Kenya, Nov and Jan in Zimbabwe, and Oct–Mar in South Africa. Nest a small thick-walled... read more


    Not well understood. Partially nomadic in E Africa (race blayneyi), movements coinciding... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Localized and generally uncommon; not uncommon in Angola; very scarce in Malawi. Apparently disjunct distribution, but perhaps overlooked in some... read more

    Recommended citation

    Tyler, S. (2020). Bush Pipit (Anthus caffer). 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 21 February 2020).