Thursday, December 27, 2012

'Merican Pipit

Also known as the Buff-bellied Pipit, this bird isn't the biggest, the strongest, the loudest, or the wealthiest, but it's still 100% American; just look at its name! They love open farmland and fields and have some seriously big hitch-hiking thumbs. What could be more rural American than that? Nothing, that's what!

They don't have a lot of flash, but American Pipits make the most of their subtle colors, combining buffy yellows and browns in a varying and charming color combination. They can be found on all agricultural land or sod farms in the Arizona throughout the winter. Sometimes there will just be individuals, maybe even mixing it up with Savannah Sparrows, and sometimes there will be large flocks over 100 strong.

I stopped to photograph this handsome fellow while driving around Pretzer road in the Santa Cruz flats. Somewhat like shore-birding, I'd scan the Pipit parties looking for a pair of pink legs, the tell-tale sign of the much rarer and highly prized Sprague's Pipit. No luck on the Sprague's yet, but it's really fun to observe these tail-bobbing foragers; they're pretty tolerant and allow for a close approach.

The American Pipits are a nice change in the LBJ (little brown job) department from all the White-crowned Sparrows too. They've got that quintessential bird pose, with the 60 degree angled posture and  longer legs. Ya know, the more I think about it, the more I think this bird is quite beautiful.

It was pretty sweet to get good looks at these birds while merely en route to other destinations. Bonus!