Anthus rubescens

Status:  Common regular spring and fall migrant statewide.

Documentation:  Specimen: UNSM ZM6724, 19 Oct 1899 Lancaster Co.

Taxonomy:  There are four subspecies generally recognized (Hendricks and Verbeek 2020): rubescens, breeding north of the tree line from northern Alaska east to Newfoundland, wintering in the southeast United States and northeast Mexico, pacificus (including geophilus), breeding from the Aleutian Islands east across southern and central Alaska to Mackenzie (in the Northwest Territories) and south along the Cascades and Rocky Mountains to Oregon and southwest Alberta, wintering from Arizona and west Texas into Mexico, alticola, breeding in the Rocky Mountains from Montana south to east-central Arizona and northern New Mexico and, farther west, chiefly in the Sierra Nevada of California, wintering in the southwest United States and northwest Mexico, and japonicus, breeding in Siberia and vagrant only to western parts of Western Hemisphere. Inclusion of japonicus within A. rubescens is controversial due to genetic and morphological differences (Hendricks and Verbeek 2020).

Rapp et al (1958) cited rubescens as occurring in Nebraska; it would seem most likely as a migrant of the three North American subspecies, although the montane Rocky Mountains race alticola may also occur in migration but has not been confirmed. The only subspecies confirmed in Wyoming is the local breeder alticola (Faulkner 2010).

Spring:  Mar 3, 4, 5 <<<>>> May 21, 23, 23

Migration takes place mainly in Apr, although the first arrivals appear in Mar. There are earlier reports, both at Pawnee Lake, Lancaster Co, of an amazingly early single 11-26 Feb 2020, and the other of 8-12 at 1 Mar 2018, and a late report 31 May 2004 Brown Co.

Three very late reports 30 Jun 1967 Garden Co, 22-23 July 1986 Sioux Co, and 6 Aug 1987 Lincoln Co, are doubtfully correct; Thompson et al (2011) described similar reports in Kansas as “inexplicable”.

  • High counts:  100 at Spring Creek Prairie, Lancaster Co 12 May 2009, 100 at Red Cloud, Webster Co 3 May 2013, 75 in Hamilton Co 9 Apr 2005, and 67 at Clear Creek WMA, Keith Co 18 Apr 1998.

Fall:  Aug 30,31,31 <<<>>> Nov 23,24,25

Migration is mostly in late Sep and Oct, although there are earlier reports 14 Aug Keith Co (Rosche 1994), 17 Aug 2008 Polk Co, 18 Aug 2002 Dixon Co, 24 Aug 1964 Lincoln Co, and 26 Aug 2006 Lake McConaughy, Keith Co.

While there is no evidence for overwintering, with only one documented record as late as early Jan and none for Feb, individuals have remained very late in fall: 2 Dec 2018 Lincoln, Lancaster Co, 4 Dec 2009 Lancaster Co, three on 18-19 Dec 1992 near Keystone, Lake McConaughy (Gubanyi 1996), 1-2 at Scottsbluff 19 Dec 2015, six at Lincoln, Lancaster Co 25 Dec 1942, 25 Dec 2012 Lancaster Co, four on 28 Dec 2013 Lake McConaughy, 30 Dec 1967 Scottsbluff, Scotts Bluff Co, 30 Dec 2018 Lake McConaughy CBC, and 3-4 at Lake Ogallala, Keith Co 1 Jan 2017.

  • High counts:  744 at Lake McConaughy 12 Oct 2000, 600 near Hastings, Adams Co 21 Oct 2006, and 320 at Johnson WPA, Phelps Co, 18 Nov 2001.


UNSM: University of Nebraska State Museum
WPA: Waterfowl Production Area

Literature Cited

Faulkner, D.W. 2010. Birds of Wyoming. Roberts and Company, Greenwood Village, Colorado, USA.

Gubanyi, J.G. 1996. 1992, 1993 (Fifth) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 64: 30-35.

Hendricks, P. and N.A. Verbeek. 2020. American Pipit (Anthus rubescens), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Jorgensen, J.G. 2012.  Birds of the Rainwater Basin, Nebraska.  Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.

Rosche, R.C. 1994. Birds of the Lake McConaughy area and the North Platte River valley, Nebraska.  Published by the author, Chadron, Nebraska, USA.

Thompson, M.C., C.A. Ely, B. Gress, C. Otte, S.T. Patti, D. Seibel, and E.A. Young. 2011. Birds of Kansas.  University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA.

Recommended Citation

Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen.  2020.  American Pipit (Anthus rubescens). In Birds of Nebraska — Online.

Birds of Nebraska – Online

Updated 29 Mar 2020