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Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis

This species has been uplisted to Near Threatened as its global population has probably declined by more than 25% over the last three generations, and is continuing to decline, thus approaching the threshold for Vulnerable under the population size reduction criterion (A2abc+3bc+4abc).

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

14.5-15 cm. Small streaked pipit, earth-brown/greenish orange-brown with broad brownish-black streaks on top of head, mantle, scapulars and back. Wings darker. Tail dark brown. Underparts white/grey/yellow-buff. Throat side, breast and flanks streaked black-brown. Juvenile more buff-brown with more obvious streaking. Voice Aerial song a series of segments of uniform notes. Call a thin high-pitched squeak often repeated.

Distribution and population
This species is widespread across Europe. Its range extends from eastern Greenland (Denmark) in the west, across northern Europe to the central and southern high mountains and to the River Ob, east of the Urals, Russia. Small isolated populations are also found in the central Apennines in Italy and in the mountains along the border of Georgia and Armenia (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997). Western European populations are largely resident or undertake partial migration (Tyler 2004). Northern and eastern populations winter in western, central and southern Europe into coastal north Africa and the Middle East, moving as far south as south-west Mauritania. Birds breeding in western Siberia migrate to south-west Asia from Iraq and Iran east to Uzbekistan.

Population justification
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 9,670,000-15,000,000 pairs, which equates to approximately 19,300,000-30,000,000 mature individuals and 28,950,000-45,000,000 individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms 75-94% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 20,500,000-40,000,000 mature individuals and 30,800,000-60,000,000 individuals although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
In Europe, trends since 1980 show that populations have undergone a moderate decline (p<0.01), based on provisional data for 21 countries from the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (EBCC/RSPB/BirdLife/Statistics Netherlands; P. Vorisek in litt. 2008). Recently published data for the European Red List of Birds shows that the population size in Europe is estimated to be decreasing at a rate approaching 30% in 11.4 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015). No information is available about the trends of the Russian breeding population, which extends just east of the Ural Mountains into West Siberia, but the Russian population comprises only c. 15% of the European population (BirdLife International 2015). The global population is therefore thought to be declining at a moderately rapid rate.

This species breeds in a wide range of open habitats, such as tundra, moorland and heathland, bogs, saltmarshes, dunes, coastal meadows, hillsides, forest clearings, fallow land and occasionally in arable land. In the winter it is also found along seashores. It breeds from late March to August. The nest is a neat cup of grass, lined with finer grass and hair and is concealed amongst vegetation on the ground. Clutches range from two to seven eggs and clutch size increases with latitude (Tyler 2004). It feeds mainly on invertebrates but does consume some plant seeds in the autumn and winter (Snow and Perrins 1998).

The main cause of declines is thought to be agricultural intensification (Tyler 2004, L. Raudonikis in litt. 2015). Populations undergo large annual fluctuations dependent on the severity of the weather on migration and in its wintering areas (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997).

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species.

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
The maintenance and promotion of low-intensity farming methods may benefit this species. Research is needed to identify threats.

BirdLife International. 2004. Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

BirdLife International. 2015. European Red List of Birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.

Hagemeijer, E.J.M. and Blair, M.J. 1997. The EBCC atlas of European breeding birds: their distribution and abundance. T. and A. D. Poyser, London.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Jenni, L.; Kery, M. 2003. Timing of autumn bird migration under climate change: advances in long-distance migrants, delays in short-distance migrants. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 270(1523): 1467-1471.

Snow, D.W. and Perrins, C.M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Volume 2: Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Tyler, S. 2004. Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis). In: J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D.A. Christie and E. de Juana (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Vahatalo, A. V.; Rainio, K.; Lehikoinen, A.; Lehikoinen, E. 2004. Spring arrival of birds depends on the North Atlantic Oscillation. Journal of Avian Biology 35: 210-216.

Zalakevicius, M.; Bartkeviciene, G.; Raudonikis, L.; Janulaitis, J. 2006. Spring arrival response to climate change in birds: a case study from eastern Europe. Journal of Ornithology 147: 326-343.

Further web sources of information
Detailed regional assessment and species account from the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International, 2015)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Wright, L, Pople, R., Burfield, I., Ieronymidou, C. & Wheatley, H.

Raudonikis, L. & Virkkala, R.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Anthus pratensis. Downloaded from on 25/11/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/11/2015.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Motacillidae (Wagtails and pipits)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1758)
Population size 20500000-40000000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 5,160,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment