Family Pipits and Wagtails (Motacillidae)

Least Concern

Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus)


French: Pipit maritime German: Strandpieper Spanish: Bisbita costero
Other common names: Eurasian Rock Pipit

Alauda petrosa


, 1798,

coast of Wales


Until recently treated as conspecific with A. spinoletta and A. rubescens. Variation somewhat clinal, from longer-billed darker birds at NW edge of range to shorter-billed and paler ones in NE; race kleinschmidti sometimes merged with nominate#R. Proposed races meinertzhageni (described from South Uist, off W Scotland), hesperianus (Arran, off W Scotland) and ponens (NW France) considered inseparable from nominate. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. p. kleinschmidti E. J. O. Hartert, 1905 – Faroes and outlying Scottish islands of Shetland, Orkney, Fair Isle and St Kilda.
  • A. p. petrosus (Montagu, 1798) – Western Rock Pipit – coasts of Ireland, Britain (except SE), Channel Is and N & NW France.
  • A. p. littoralis C. L. Brehm, 1823 – Scandinavian Rock Pipit – coasts of Fennoscandia and NW Russia; winters in W European coasts (S from S Scandinavia) and NW Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    16·5–17 cm; 18–32·5 g. Nominate race has narrow, broken whitish eyering, sometimes hint of pale supercilium, grey-brown to olive-brown lores and ear... read more


    Song, in flight, a sequence of sharp notes repeated in series, with several theme changes, usually... read more


    Exposed rocky sea coasts and islands with low vegetation; occasionally breeds away from coast, e.g... read more

    Food and feeding

    Prey comprises a range of invertebrates, from terrestrial snails and slugs (Mollusca), worms (Annelida), small crabs and other crustaceans... read more


    Mid-Mar to Aug, varying with latitude, from Jun in far N; double-brooded in S of range. Monogamous, but polygyny reported in Sweden (race... read more


    Resident and migratory. Nominate race largely resident, with some short-distance dispersal; ... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common. Global population estimated at c. 408,000 pairs, of which majority (c. 300,000) in Norway. Densities vary from 0·9 to 6 pairs/km of... read more

    Recommended citation

    Tyler, S. (2020). Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus). 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 29 February 2020).