British Garden Birds Site Map Album Info Quiz Shop Links About Visit us on facebook Visit us on twitter

Meadow Pipit

Meadow Pipit
Both sexes: Olive-brown upperparts and pale, heavily streaked underparts.

The Meadow Pipit looks like a Song Thrush, but is only slightly larger than a Great Tit.

The male and female Meadow Pipits are alike. Typically, the upperparts are grey to olive-brown in colour with darker streaks. The underparts are pale grey or buff coloured with bold streaks and spots on the breast and flanks. The belly and outer tail feathers are white. The legs are a dull pink.

Juvenile Meadow Pipits are pinkish-buff and lack the dark streaks on the flanks.

The Tree Pipit is very similar to the Meadow Pipit, but its general appearance is cleaner with more distinct markings, the legs are a paler pink and the hind claw is much shorter.

Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit
Tree Pipit
Tree Pipit

Scientific Name Anthus pratensis
Length 14-15.5 cm (5½-6¼")
Wing Span 22-25 cm (9-10")
Weight 16-25 g (½-1 oz)
Breeding Pairs 1900000
Present All Year
Status Amber

Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.


The song is delivered during the bird's aerial display, which consists of flying from a perch, rising upwards in a fluttering ascent, and then parachuting downwards on half spread wings. The song comprises a series of accelerating "tseep tseep..." as it rises, decelerating "tseut tseut...", and a trill to finish.


© Jean Roché,


The diet is mainly invertebrates including flies, spiders, moths and beetles, but also seeds in autumn and winter.


Meadow Pipits breed in open country on heaths, moors, bogs, and coastal marshes. The nest is on the ground usually well concealed, and built by the female from dry grass and lined with finer grass and hair.

The smooth, glossy eggs are white with heavy brown spotting, and about 19 mm by 15 mm. Incubation is by the female only. The young are fed by both parents. Meadow Pipit broods are often parasitized by the Cuckoo.

Breeding Starts Clutches Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
April-June 2 3-5 11-15 14-16


The Meadow Pipit is mainly resident in Britain, but some winter on the Iberian isthmus (Spain and Portugal) and northern Africa, and in the spring and autumn there are large numbers of passage visitors.


Changes in farming practices that have lead to there being less rough grazing areas in the winter are blamed for the decline in the Meadow Pipit.

Set-aside (uncultivated land in which various wildlife habitats may develop over a number of years), wide field margins and traditional hedgerow management can help to halt and reverse their decline.