02 August 2010

Tree Pipit

I find some bird calls hard to hear, especially the higher pitched ones. In this particular instance a call heard would have helped identify this juvenile pipit (moulting into 1st winter plumage). Between 2 species Meadow and Tree. Earlier this year I remember reading that Meadow Pipits have a very long hind claw, especially compared to Tree Pipit. I saw a Meadow Pipit perched on a cable not long after reading this and it is striking. However, not that easy to see on a bird walking on the ground. The hind claw of a Tree Pipit is half the length of a Meadow's and the Tree's is "hook" shaped whereas a Meadow's is only slightly curved.

Other features shown on this bird that point towards Tree are the contrast in streaking, which is bold and heavy on the breast but much lighter and streaky on its flanks. Meadows have much more evenly sized streaking throughout the underparts. The bill is pink and quite heavy on Tree, whereas on a Meadow it is yellow and slender looking. Tree Pipits are of course migratory and these birds will have completed the majority of their moult before heading south. Although in some circumstances birds can suspend their moult during migration to conserve energy for the long trip.

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