BirdTrack's picture

Pipit species

Observed: 10th September 2010 By: BirdTrack
British Trust for Ornithology
Birds expert

This image was submitted to the BTO; whilst there is a concensus of opinion on its identity, I am interested to see what iSpot users make of it. I will be grateful if you will add comments to support your identification / agreement, where possible.

Species interactions

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BirdTrack's picture

Thoughts on this pipit anyone?

jhn7's picture

Stealthy body position.

I've agreed with Tree Pipit because of the appearance of what the 'gait' might be, although the head markings suggest Olive-backed pipit. I'm intrigued to find out the story!

Certificate in Contemporary Science (Open)

ophrys's picture

Tree Pipit

I have agreed wih Tree Pipit as the tertials are clearly and finely edged with a very pale hue, whereas Olive-backed tend to be less clearly pale-edged.

On the head, there does not appear to be a dark edge above the supercilium, as in Olive-backed.

The head pattern is quite bold for a Tree Pipit; however, the bold combination of a dark and white patch of Olive-backed, behind the ear, is missing.

Overall, it appears rather pale above, for Olive-backed.

Apologies if I am missing something else, and something obvious, here!


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RoyW's picture

My reasons for the identification.

IMO the photo posted here by Birdtrack can only be one of two species: Tree Pipit or Meadow Pipit.

The long sleek appearance, buff wash to the breast and flanks contrasting with white belly, strong facial pattern, with obvious supercilium behind the eye, and dark eyestripe through the eye, and obvious black and white median coverts are all features that point to Tree Pipit. The strength of the streaking on the lower flanks is somewhere between the very light streaking normally expected on Tree, and the heavier streaking often found on Meadow. The bill does not appear particularly strong though (which may suggest Meadow).
All of the mentioned features are variable in both species, and individuals of both can show, or lack, all of the features mentioned, but there are far more "pro Tree" features visible on this bird.

I will comment on the linked Mull observation under that observation.

BirdTrack's picture

Pipit ID

Thanks all for the comments. Myself and 3-4 of my colleagues think that it is Tree Pipit for the reasons others have outlined. One person sat on the fence between Tree and Meadow, and one person thought Meadow on bill structure, amongst other things. Personally I suspect that there is some foreshortening of the bill in this image due to the angle of the head.

Nobody went Olive-backed as the mantle looks too light and the pale spot at the rear of the ear coverts is lacking. Given the contrasty nature of the image, however, I can see how some aspects of it might point towards that conclusion.

Thanks again
Nick Moran

BirdTrack Organiser