Anthus brachyurus (Short-tailed pipit) 

Kortstertkoester [Afrikaans]; Kortstaartpieper [Dutch]; Pipit cafre [French]; Kurzschwanzpieper [German]; Petinha-rabicurta [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Motacillidae > Genus: Anthus

Anthus brachyurus (Short-tailed pipit)  Anthus brachyurus (Short-tailed pipit) 
Short-tailed pipit male, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. . [photo Hugh Chittenden ] Short-tailed pipit female, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. . [photo Hugh Chittenden ]

For information about this species, see

Distribution and habitat

It mainly occurs in a teardrop-shaped area from Gabon to Zambia, but it also has isolated populations in Tanzania, eastern DRC and southern Africa. Here it is rare and localised, occupying the flood plains of the Beira river in central Mozambique and small parts of KwaZulu-Natal. It generally prefers fairly short grassland on hills, but in the non-breeding season it may move into adjacent seasonally flooded grassland.

Distribution of Short-tailed pipit in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


It does most of its foraging on the ground, feeding on seeds, insects and their larvae.


  • The nest (see image below) is a small deep cup made of coarse grass and lined with finer grass stems and rootlets. It is typically placed in a dense clump of grass, the leaves of which conceal it from predators.
Anthus brachyurus (Short-tailed pipit)  

Short-tailed pipit nest with chicks and egg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. [photo Hugh Chittenden ]

  • It lays 2-3 eggs in the period from October-February, while egg-laying season peaks during November.
  • Little is known about the development and care of the chicks, other then that they leave the nest after about 13 days.


Not threatened internationally but Vulnerable in South Africa, as its favoured grassland habitat is largely unprotected and threatened by overgrazing, coal mining and agriculture.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 



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