Meadow pipit

Meadow pipit

©Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Meadow pipit

Scientific name: Anthus pratensis
The meadow pipit favours moorland and grassland. It is an unfortunate victim of cuckolding behaviour - their own young being pushed out of the nest, so they can look after the 'parasitic' Cuckoo chick.

Species information


Length: 15cm
Wingspan: 24cm
Weight: 19g
Average Lifespan: 3 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2021). Listed as Near Threatened on the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

When to see

January to December


The meadow pipit is a common nesting bird of moorland, heathland and rough grassland. In the autumn and winter, it moves out of upland areas to lowlands where it gathers in small flocks and can be found on farmland and saltmarshes. In the spring, it performs a fluttering, 'parachute' display flight. There are 2 million breeding territories in the UK.

How to identify

A small, streaky, yellow-brown bird, the meadow pipit has pale, flesh-coloured legs, whereas the similar rock pipit has blackish legs. The tree pipit is very similar, but has a slightly sturdier bill.



Did you know?

On moorlands, meadow pipits are the most common 'foster parents' of young cuckoos. The adult cuckoo will lay a single egg in a meadow pipit's nest. After hatching, the cuckoo chick will push the other eggs or young birds out of the nest, giving its foster parents more time to concentrate on feeding their new, oversized chick.