Family Pipits and Wagtails (Motacillidae)

Least Concern

Long-billed Pipit (Anthus similis)


French: Pipit à long bec German: Langschnabelpieper Spanish: Bisbita piquilargo

Anthus similis


, 1840,

Jalna, Nilgiri Hills, southern India


Previously regarded as conspecific with A. nyassae. Race winterbottomi of A. cinnamomeus has sometimes been treated as a race of present species. Race bannermani considered a separate species by some authors. Taxonomy complex, and listed ranges somewhat tentative; revision required, with a preliminary genetic study indicating that Palearctic (Israel) and E African (Kenyan) forms are more closely related than latter are to S African populations#R. Race arabicus is possibly inseparable from nivescens#R, primarius is sometimes merged with nicholsoni, and travancoriensis potentially synonymous with nominate#R. Other described races are josensis (from C Nigeria) and chapini (Cameroon), both included in bannermani; neumannianus (Ethiopia) and chyuluensis (Chyulu Hills, in Kenya), included in hararensis; moco (WC Angola) and hallae (Uganda), inseparable from dewittei; and cockburniae (Nilgiris), synonymous with nominate. The taxon “Long-tailed Pipit Anthus longicaudatus”, recognized in HBW, has been shown to be an amalgam of the present species and A. vaalensis, and is invalid#R; similarly, “Kimberley Pipit Anthus pseudosimilis”, recognized in HBW, is an amalgam of the present species, A. cinnamomeus and A. hoeschi, and is invalid#R. Nineteen subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. s. bannermani Bates, 1930 – Bannerman's Pipit – mountains of SW Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone and N Liberia E to C & SE Nigeria and W Cameroon.
  • A. s. asbenaicus Rothschild, 1920 – S Sahara in C & E Mali and C Niger.
  • A. s. captus E. J. O. Hartert, 1905 – Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestine and W Jordan.
  • A. s. jebelmarrae Lynes, 1920 – mountains of W & C Sudan.
  • A. s. nivescens Reichenow, 1905 – mountains of SE Egypt (Gebel Elba), and from hills of Red Sea coast in NE Sudan and Eritrea S to mountains in E Ethiopia and NW Somalia.
  • A. s. hararensis Neumann, 1906 – highlands of Eritrea, Ethiopia, extreme SE South Sudan, Kenya and Tanzania.
  • A. s. dewittei Chapin, 1937 – highlands of E & SE DRCongo, SW Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and C Angola (Mt Moco, in Huambo).
  • A. s. palliditinctus Clancey, 1956 – extreme SW Angola and NW Namibia.
  • A. s. leucocraspedon Reichenow, 1915 – W & S Namibia and SW South Africa (W Northern Cape, NW Western Cape).
  • A. s. nicholsoni Sharpe, 1884 – SE Botswana and NE South Africa (Northern Province S to Free State).
  • A. s. petricolus Clancey, 1956 – Lesotho and E South Africa.
  • A. s. primarius Clancey, 1990 – S South Africa (S Western Cape E to N Eastern Cape).
  • A. s. arabicus E. J. O. Hartert, 1917 – SW, S & SE Arabian Peninsula.
  • A. s. sokotrae E. J. O. Hartert, 1917 – Socotra I.
  • A. s. decaptus R. Meinertzhagen, 1920 – S Iran (Zagros Mts) E to W Pakistan (Baluchistan); winters S to NW India.
  • A. s. jerdoni Finsch, 1870 – E Afghanistan E in Himalayas to W Nepal; winters S to NC India and Bangladesh.
  • A. s. similis Jerdon, 1840 – Long-billed Pipit – peninsular India from Bombay S to Karnataka and W Tamil Nadu (Nilgiri and Palni Hills).
  • A. s. travancoriensis Ripley, 1953 – SW India (Kerala–W Tamil Nadu border, from Palni Hills S to Ashambu Hills).
  • A. s. yamethini B. P. Hall, 1957 – C Myanmar.
  • Descriptive notes

    17–20 cm; male 30–35 g, female 28–31 g, unsexed (hararensis) 21·5–29 g, unsexed (nicholsoni) 22–25 g. Large, stout... read more


    Song, from ground or in flight, a simple unmusical series of high, monotonous and well-spaced,... read more


    Stony or rocky hillsides with sparse ground cover, often with scrub or open woodland. In Africa,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects and other small invertebrates, also seeds; grit also ingested. Diet includes grasshoppers and crickets (Orthoptera), beetles (... read more


    Breeds in Mar–Apr in Sierra Leone and Cameroon, Jun–Jul in Niger, May–Oct in Sudan, Apr–May in Kenya, Oct–Apr... read more


    Generally resident; some local or elevational movements. In Africa, more sedentary than other... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and locally frequent over its large range. Estimated 1500–2000 pairs in Israel in 1980s. Apparent range expansion in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Tyler, S. (2020). Long-billed Pipit (Anthus similis). 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 18 February 2020).