Sprague’s Pipit

photo by Phil Swanson

Anthus spragueii
L 6 1/2″ (17 cm).

Song or calls:
Squeaky “squeet,” given 2 or 3 times. Song, given in flight, is descending “tzee 

Description: Sexes similar. Sparrow-like. Blackish-brown above, with pale edges on rounded back feathers giving scaly look; whitish underparts with a buffy wash; short dark streaks on breast; prominent dark eye in pale buff face; streaked rump; pinkish legs; and white outer tail feathers.

Behavior: Secretive and somewhat solitary. Unlike American Pipit, does not have habit of pumping tail.

Bird Map
Habitat: Found in dense, grassy vegetation of plains and prairies. Unlike American Pipit, not often found in bare areas close to water.

Where in Nebraska: Uncommon spring and fall migrant, probably occuring statewide. Most observations from central Nebraska (especially Webster and Adams Counties).

Fun Facts: When Sprague Pipit males are displaying for females they will sometimes hover in the air for half an hour to attract a mate. One male was once recorded remaining airborne for three hours displaying for a female before descending to the ground.

Sprague's Pipit - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)