Sprague’s Pipit, 6 ˝"
Drawing by Patsy Renz

A brownish, buffy bird with scaly look on back, streaked rump and wing bars. Dark eye stands out on buffy face. Thin bill. Dark streaks on crown. Lightly streaked breast. Whitish belly. Pale legs. White outer tail feathers obvious when takes off.

Nests on the ground in shortgrass prairie with open patches. Shuns plowed or burned land. Breeds in North Dakota, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Montana. Winters in Mexico, southern Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Secretive and solitary. Walks instead of hopping. Doesn’t bob tail while feeding. Doesn’t flush until close, then flies high, folds wings and plummets back to ground, breaking its fall with outspread wings just before disappearing into dense grass. Eats insects and seeds of grasses and weeds.

Flight song given high in the air as bird rises in large circles until out of sight. Plummets down silently. Flight song is a thin, sweet, rolling, jingling, cascade of descending two-note phrases repeated over and over as bird rises. Song has been described as both "beautiful" and "a weird hissing.


NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center
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