Aug 27 2012
According to Birds of North America Online this slender, inconspicuous bird begins its southward migration next month.
American pipits breed in some of the harshest habitat of any songbird. They prefer open tundra and mountaintops above treeline where bad weather is the greatest threat to their nesting success. In a bad year, their nests suffer 80% mortality when deep springtime snow covers their eggs and young.
In the fall they avoid the coming snow, flying south to beaches and open mudflats. I’ve seen them at the edge of Shenango Lake and on the treeless mountaintops of Acadia National Park.
I even saw several lone pipits on the beach at Cape Cod in early August.
I don’t know why those August pipits left the tundra for the beach but it certainly wasn’t because of snow this summer!
(photo by Alan Vernon via Wikimedian Commons. Click on the photo to see the original)