The Australian Pipit - Anthus australis - (also known as Richard's Pipit) is dull brown streaked with brown camouflage over the back with brown-centred, cream-edged feathers. A cream-white eyebrow is distinctive. White lining either side of the tail. Underside is creamy-white with broken vertical brown streaks on the breast. Eye brown; bill and feet are horny to horny-pink in colour. Male and female are similar. Length is 17 to 18 centimetres.
The pipit lives on the ground in open country including wet heath, pastures, arid scrub, samphire, beach and grassed clearings in woodland. The pipit eats, sleeps and nests on the ground. It runs along the ground to feed, darting here and there to pick up food - grasshoppers, ants, caterpillars, beetles, other insects and occasionally seeds. Running is interrupted to perch on low stones or similar higher points, wagging the tail up and down. When alarmed it flies to the top of a bush on a bare branch or on a fence post.
Similar to lark and sparrow in appearance. Pipit legs are longer than lark or sparrow, the beak is also longer than the other species. At first sight, a pipit may be identified as a female house sparrow but a sparrow doesn't run along the ground the way a pipit does.
Lives over nearly all of Australia, running, feeding, sleeping and nesting on the ground in all climates and in all seasons. Not nomadic or migratory, although populations in the Snowy Mountains descend to lower altitudes in winter. Often gathers in scattered flocks of up to 100 birds.
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