Meadow pipit Anthus pratensis

The meadow pipit, also known as anthus pratensis, is a common nesting bird in the moorlands, salt marshes and unimproved grassland. They can be identified by their cream coloured breast with black spots and their brown upperparts that are also streaked by black spots. They have dull pink legs and a small, pointed beak.


During the breeding season, adults can be seen performing a ‘parachute’ like display in flight. Meadow pipit nest on the ground to obscure themselves and their chicks within thick vegetation. The nests are built by the females from dry grass and hair. The meadow pipit vacates upland areas during winter.


  • Length: 14 – 16cm
  • Wingspan: 22 – 25cm
  • Weight: 15 – 25g


Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: The Red List for Birds (2015). Listed as Near Threatened on the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


Throughout the UK

When to see

January – December


  • Meadow pipits are one of the most common ‘foster parents’ for cuckoo chicks who will push meadow pipit chicks out of the nest to get more of the parents’ attention.

Common name

Meadow pipit

Species name

Anthus pratensis

IUCN Red List status

Near threatened

When to see in Scotland

January – December

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Montrose Basin and Knockshinnoch Lagoons.

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