Migrating American Pipits in Utah – Pipits Everywhere!

/, Birds, Davis County, Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, Utah/Migrating American Pipits in Utah – Pipits Everywhere!

American Pipit with preyAmerican Pipit with prey – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 320, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

American Pipits are migrating through Utah in large numbers right now and yesterday morning at Farmington Bay they seemed to be everywhere! I’ve been hearing them in flight and have seen them on the wing but yesterday was the first time I have been close enough to photograph the migrating American Pipits this season. I saw them with prey in their bills.

American Pipit with prey in its billAmerican Pipit with prey in its bill – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I’m not sure what this prey is but it does have long legs so it might be a spider, I don’t know for sure and don’t like to speculate.

American Pipit and its shadowAmerican Pipit and its shadow – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Sometimes the pipits would fly in close, as close as 10 feet or so but on the wing they are extremely hard to photograph because they fly swiftly and erratically.

Calling American PipitCalling American Pipit – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This calling American Pipit was bothered by something nearby because it crouched down and called repeatedly. I am not certain whether its behavior was caused by the sight of a predator or if this was a territorial response but it didn’t last long and the pipit stood upright again and then flew away.

American Pipit close upAmerican Pipit close up – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

There were a few times that some of the pipits came in close and I took a few close ups when I could focus on them, these small birds move fast even on the ground.

American Pipit in nonbreeding plumageAmerican Pipit in nonbreeding plumage – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I took a lot of photos where there was something in front of the birds obstructing the view of their entire bodies and when I could photograph them out in the open I took advantage of the opportunities. The pipits I see this time of the year are in their winter plumage or as it is better known, nonbreeding plumage.

American Pipit on fall migrationAmerican Pipit on fall migration – Nikon D500, f8, 1/800, ISO 250, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The majority of the pipits I saw yesterday were in flight or foraging on the ground near the marsh in an open field.

American Pipit with gritAmerican Pipit with grit – Nikon D500, f8, 1/800, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This pipit landed on a chunk of old pavement that was out in the open, bent down and picked up something small and kept it at the tip of its bill for a bit. There weren’t any plants nearby and the object in the pipit’s bill didn’t have legs so I believe the pipit was picking up grit. Some species of birds consume grit to help them digest seeds and insects and that is what the diet of pipits consists of. Until I researched it yesterday I didn’t even know pipits used grit to help them digest their food.  I learn some thing new about birds practically every time I photograph them.

For a few more weeks I will be looking for pipits and listening for them too as they slowly make their way south.

Life is good.

Mia

  The Use of Grit in Pipits, Especially the American Pipit, by N. A.M. Verbeek

Abstract.–It appears that both adult and nestling pipits (Anthus spp.) use grit for the mechanical breakdown of seeds and insects. Pipits in temperate regions have larger amounts of seed in their diets during fall and winter than during the summer, and apparently take more grit then than during the summer to help grind the seeds.

6 Comments

  1. Elephant's Child October 14, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Such a subtle charmer.

  2. Diane McPherson-Stern October 14, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Wonderful pictures. Thanks so much for sharing your travels with us.

  3. Bob McPherson October 14, 2016 at 7:32 am

    Beautiful photos, Mia.

  4. Liz Cormack October 14, 2016 at 7:31 am

    I have never been able to photograph a pipit. They never seem to sit still. How fortunate for you to get these beautiful shots.

  5. pennypinchadventure Tim Traver October 14, 2016 at 7:18 am

    Love the pipit! Just the name alone conjures cold high places in the Northeast. Mountain tops!

  6. Patty Chadwick October 14, 2016 at 7:05 am

    Thanks for a very enjoyable series of a perky little bird I wouldn’t get to see otherwise. Those longis legs make them look like pretty fast runners…..

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