PIPITs of South America and their Allies

Order Passeriformes    Family Motacillidae

The Motacillidae are a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the longclaws, pipits and wagtails. The longclaws are entirely found in sub Saharan Africa, and the wagtails are predominately found in Europe, Africa and Asia. The pipits have the most widely distributed, being found mostly in the Old World but occurring also in the Americas and oceanic islands.

Wagtails, pipits, and longclaws are slender, small to medium sized passerines, ranging from 14 to 17 centimetres in length, with short necks and long tails[2]. They have long, pale legs with long toes and claws, particularly the hind toe which can be up to 4 cm in length in some longclaws. Overall the robust longclaws are larger than the pipits and wagtails. The plumage of most pipits is dull brown and reminiscent of the larks. The adult male longclaws have brightly coloured undersides. The wagtails often have striking plumage, including grey, black, white, and yellow.

Motacillids take a wide range of invertebrate prey, especially insects are the most commonly taken, but also including spiders, worms. They occupy almost all available habitats, from the shore to high mountains. Wagtails prefer wetter habitats to the pipits.

Genus Anthus

Pipit, Correndera  Anthus correndera  Found: South America
Image by: Cláudio Timm - Argentine Lake, Argentina

Pipit, Yellowish  Anthus lutescens  Found: South America
Image by: 1, 2) Cláudio Timm - Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil  3) Dario Sanches

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