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Pipit: African

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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Yolandé Oelsen
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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby Yolandé Oelsen » Wed Nov 26, 2008 3:55 pm

Thanks :D
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Yolandé Oelsen
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Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby Yolandé Oelsen » Thu Jan 08, 2009 7:54 pm

Is this some sort of pipit? Maybe African pipit??

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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby deefstes » Thu Jan 08, 2009 11:42 pm

Hi Yolande,

Yes, your bird certainly is a Pipit but these birds are notoriously difficult to ID. With Pipits it is particularly true that you need to take number of factors into consideration and to no small extent the foraging habits and tail wagging. On top of that the plumage features need to be observed very closely and streaking on the back plays an important role.

Unfortunately your pic shows very few of the plumage features, none of the habits and you're not telling us anything about location, time of year, vocalisation etc - don't get me started on that topic...

So I'm afraid, while there is a good chance that your bird is an African Pipit (statistically more than for any other reason) I wouldn't even begin to try and make an ID based on this picture. In fact, I'm hesitant to ID a Pipit on any one picture as some Pipits I don't believe are identifiable based on a single picture. I just don't think that one picture can capture enough of the multitude of factors that comprise a Pipit ID.
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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:05 am

Yolandé, have deefstes' advice about pipit ID engraved in your memory. Or even better... make a little list off of it and keep it inside your birding note book. :wink: You will recognise a pipit (the family) quite easily. Then... sit and observe as much as you possibly can (make copious notes!) and take pix that clearly shows front, back and facial patterns as well as a good shot showing bill and legs. Then we will be cookin' ( :lol: sometimes)
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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby DinkyBird » Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:27 am

AGAIN I have removed posts made here that were totally uncalled for!!

Let me tell you guys (you know who you are) - if this is what birding does to folk, and then brings to this forum, you are driving folk away not encouraging them at all!

For goodness sakes - let the matter rest and get on with promoting birding!
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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby Yolandé Oelsen » Sun Jan 11, 2009 1:28 pm

Thanks Johan and Deefstes for your explanation. :)
Sorry... I forgot to say where and when I saw this pipit. :redface:

But I will take your advice and make as many notes as possible next time I see these little birdies!. They are very confusing and difficult to me. Especially also the difference between pipit and lark, at this stage I think that pipits are smaller that larks?

It is also difficult to get good pics of these pipits - they are so quick!
Further they (mostly) doesnt look the same in reality as what the books shows.....

I see I still have plenty to learn. And then the cisticolas are to be studied too... :wall:
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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby deefstes » Sun Jan 11, 2009 3:12 pm

Yolandé Oelsen wrote:They are very confusing and difficult to me.

That makes two of us :wink:

Yolandé Oelsen wrote:Especially also the difference between pipit and lark, at this stage I think that pipits are smaller that larks?

For the most part yes but it is not true in all cases and it is not apparent in most cases.

I couldn't recommend Faansie Peacock's book (Pipits of Southern Africa) more strongly. Apart from the magnificent explanations on how to seperate the various Pipits, it has a chapter dealing with seperating Pipits from other families and specifically from Larks.

The two families actually do differ significantly but to the untrained eye it is anything but obvious. If you get a good view of the legs of the bird (but you'll need a GOOD view) you can have a look to see if you can make out the scutes on the legs. The back of Pipits' legs have a continuous sheath (unscaled), while the front of the legs have only a few large scutes. In contradistinction, the legs of Larks show mane smaller scutes.

Generally speaking, Larks have much more elaborate songs than Pipits also and other attributes on which they can be told apart include behaviour, body posture etc. but all of these will only become noticeable as you develop a basic familiarity with the birds. Don't worry, it WILL come, just keep working at it.

Yolandé Oelsen wrote:Further they (mostly) doesnt look the same in reality as what the books shows.....

I know what you mean. I can imagine that it must be a doggone impossible
task to illustrate birds in which there are such subtle differences. In fact, I don't really believe it will ever be possible to illustrate these types of birds to the level where the picture will make ID any less difficult than it already is.

Don't forget to read the descriptions that the field guides give though. Especially with these very difficult groups like Pipits, Larks and Cisticola, the texts are often better at describing the salient features than the illustrations.

Look at the bird methodically. In other words, try to follow a mental checklist. Something like:
- Is the breast streaked or not?
- Does the streaks extend down to the flanks or not?
- Is the mantle streaked or not?
- What colour is the mantle?
- What colour are the underparts?
- What is the colour of the bill?
- What is the shape of the bill?
- Are the outer tail rectrices white, creamy or the same colour as the rest of the tail?

This is just an example and there are many more things to observe but once you've answered a number of questions like these, you can go back to the field guide and read what the description says. See how many of your observations match the various descriptions of the various candidate species and you will be surprised that the answer often materialise out of your field guide even though the illustration looks nothing like the bird you're seeing.

Yolandé Oelsen wrote:I see I still have plenty to learn.

That makes two of us :wink:

Yolandé Oelsen wrote:And then the cisticolas are to be studied too... :wall:

Yep, no rest for our weary souls. But I should say though that I do think Cisticolas are a tad easier than Pipits.
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Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby arks » Sat Oct 31, 2009 10:39 pm

More "mystery birds" :wink: after this year's RSA visit. These were all seen along Darling Hills Road on 22 August 2009.

This one I think might be a longbilled pipit rather than the more common grassveld or African pipit, mainly because of the lighter, less distinct streaking on the breast?

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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby Rusty Justy » Sun Nov 01, 2009 12:26 pm

The Pipit does look very much like African, and most probably is..... :D
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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Tue Nov 03, 2009 8:49 am

The pipit is typical African (white outer retrices is another ID feature)
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Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby KobusF » Fri Jul 02, 2010 8:52 am

I have more for ID help:

On the s28 pipit?
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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby Batmad » Fri Jul 02, 2010 9:24 am

African Pipit
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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby TrevorC » Fri Jul 02, 2010 9:40 am

I agree :thumbs_up:
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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby KobusF » Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:47 pm

Thanks, Batmad and TrevorC. One day i wil also be able to id them.

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby BlackHarrier » Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:17 am

Hi guys can anyone help me identify this bird please? It looks like a type of pipit not sure what type though... Pic was taken in the Kruger National Park in the winter months in the central area of the park (Cant remember exactly where), it was by itself... Thanks!

Image


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