Taking shelter this past winter on the front enclosed porch at PROWLS, this American pipit was getting increasingly restless. Before, it had been content, keeping company with four other overwintering birds (Swainson’s thrush, two Lincoln’s sparrows and a Savannah sparrow), and consuming an abundance of mealworms.
Because of cat attacks, all of these birds missed joining their flocks for their fall migrations. PROWLS is keeping close watch to find other pipits passing through Powell River so this pipit can join with them for their spring flight to the low Arctic.
Powell River is on the pipits’ migratory route. They do not nest here but head further north for breeding and, in the fall, return as far south as El Salvador.
Following low elevation routes along coastal shores as well as interior valleys and plateaus, loose flocks of a few to several hundred fly past each other all day long.
They are calm, passionate little birds (14 to 17 centimetres long), among the very few species of American songbirds that nest in both Arctic tundra and alpine meadows.
Spring snowstorms sometimes force pipits to abandon or suspend nesting and move downslope temporarily.
There are great differences between the apparent numbers flying north in spring and those returning in fall migrations, suggesting heavy losses en route or on the winter range (i.e. in the south).