The Sprague’s Pipit
Sprague's Pipit (Anthus spragueii) is a small songbird (passerine) in the family Motacillidae that breeds in the short- and mixed-grass prairies of North America. Migratory, it spends the winters in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Sprague's Pipits are unique among songbirds in that they sing high in the sky, it is more often identified by its distinctive descending song heard from above then it is seen on the ground. Males and females are cryptically coloured and similar in appearance; they are a buffy brown with darker streaking, slender bills and pinkish to yellow legs. Sprague's Pipit summer habitat is primarily native grasslands in the north central prairies of the United States and Canada.
Found in mixed or short grass prairie throughout the central northern Great Plains of North America. In Canada, Sprague's Pipit breed in southern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, and southwest Manitoba. In the United States, they breed in northeastern and central Montana, western and central North Dakota, northwest South Dakota, and in the Red River Valley of Minnesota.
Sprague’s Pipits were listed in 1999 by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as “Threatened”. Sprague’s Pipits were officially listed under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) as “Threatened” on 5 June 2003. In the United States, Sprague’s Pipits are a Candidate for listing as “Endangered” or “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act of 1973; however, listing Sprague’s Pipits is precluded by higher listing priorities
They breed in habitat with minimal human disturbance, such as grazing, haying or other human development. Sprague's Pipit is a ground nesting passerine and standing dead vegetation is used to build the canopy over the nest.
Breeding begins as early as late April and continues until mid to late August. Nests are a small cup of grass found on the ground with standing dead vegetation folded over to create a canopy. There is a single entrance to the nest. Four to six eggs are typically laid within the nests with an average incubation time of 13–14 days.
Sprague's Pipit's eat various insects, spiders, and sometimes seeds. During the breeding season the adults are almost entirely insectivorous and feed the young on insects as well.
In 1843, Isaac Sprague (1811–1895) a famous American ornithological painter, served as an assistant to John James Audubon (a French-American ornithologist) on an ornithological expedition up the Missouri River, taking measurements and making sketches. Young Sprague first met Audubon when the older man admired Sprague's bird drawings in 1840. Sprague's Pipit, an uncommon and inconspicuous bird, was discovered on that expedition and named for Sprague. Some of Sprague's fine drawings were incorporated into Audubon's later publications, without credit.
See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipit
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