Nilgiri Pipit

Long-billed Pipit    Anthus similis


  • Anthus : Based on Greek mythology . Anthus, son of Antinous and Hippodamia, was killed by his father’s horses and metamorphosed into a bird which imitated the neighing of horses but fled at their sight
  • Similis : Latin word for Similar

Vernacular Names:  Pun: Bhuricharchari, Guj: Patharaldhanchidi, Mal: Paranirangan, Mar: Lamb ChochichiTirchimany

Distribution in India: Resident of Western Himalayan foothills, winter visitor in Northern plains in India.

Description: Size of 17–20 cm;  wt. of male is 30–35 g, wt. of  female is 28–31 g. it is a large, stout pipit with variably streaked upperparts and breast, unstreaked flanks. The nominate race has prominent buff supercilium, buff-streaked brown lores and ear-coverts, indistinct narrow dark brown malar stripe; crown and upperparts are dark grey-brown and distinctly streaked blackish-brown. The wing feathers are dark brown, tipped and edged buff, lesser wing-coverts are buffish-brown; tail is dark brown, T5 has buffish-white outer edges and tip of inner web, T6 has buffy outer web and large dusky rufous distal wedge on inner web. The throat is greyish-white, underparts are dark pinkish-rufous, breast is clearly streaked grey-brown, longest undertail-coverts has dark centres; underwing-coverts and axillaries  are warm buff; iris is dark brown; bill is dark horn, pale pinkish base on lower mandible; legs are flesh-brown, hind claw is shorter than hind toe. Both the sexes are alike. The juvenile is darker than adult, with more obvious streaking above, giving scalloped appearance, pale wingbars more obvious, paler below, breast with well-defined spots, rather than streaks. Races vary in size, leg length, plumage coloration and pattern. The race decaptus is larger, has proportionately longer tail, shorter heavier bill, mantle and scapulars almost plain, rufous underparts paler and less streaked; the race jerdoni is smaller and darker, more brownish with very little streaking above, more rufous below with more breast streaking, supercilium and ear-coverts more rufous, also pale wedges on outer tail more buffy; The racetravancoriensis is more uniformly dark above and below than nominate, has cinnamon  underparts, also edges of outer rectrix darker tawny-olive, inner web of T5 with much larger area of dark brown.

Habitat: It is found in stony or rocky hillsides with sparse ground cover, often with scrub or open woodland. It is found from lowlands to 2600 m.

Food habits: It eats insects like grasshoppers and crickets, beetles, bugs, mantids, cockroaches, termites, ants and wasps, larval and adult moths and spiders, other small invertebrates and seeds. It forages mainly on the ground; also picks prey items from vegetation and branches. Often feeds on recently burnt ground.

Breeding habits: They breed in Mar–Apr in Sierra Leone and Cameroon, Jun–Jul in Niger, May–Oct in Sudan, Apr–May in Kenya, Oct–Apr in N Tanzania, Sept–Nov in Malawi and Zambia, Jan, Feb and Jul–Nov in Zimbabwe, and Oct–Dec in South Africa; in Mar–Jul in Israel and in Apr–Aug in Indian Subcontinent. They are Monogamous and territorial. They have a fluttering display-flight. The nest is a deep cup of dry grass, lined with finer grasses and rootlets, built on ground, often on a slope, in shelter of rock or grass tussock. They lay a clutch of 2–3 eggs. The incubation is done by female for a period of 13–14 days. The fledging period is 13–14 days. The nests is often parasitized by Common Cuckoo.