Anthus similis (Long-billed pipit) 

Nicholsonse koester [Afrikaans]; Icelu, Icetshu (generic terms for pipit) [Xhosa]; umNgcelekeshu, umNgcelu (generic terms for pipit) [Zulu]; Tšase (generic term for pipits) [South Sotho]; Langsnavelpieper [Dutch]; Pipit ŕ long bec [French]; Langschnabelpieper [German]; Petinha-de-bico-comprido [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 similis (Long-billed pipit) Anthus similis (Long-billed pipit) 

Long-billed pipit, Luneberg, South Africa. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

Long-billed pipit, Karoo National Park, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in isolated patches from India and the Arabian Peninsula to West and East Africa, with another localised population from south-western Angola to southern Africa. Here it is fairly common from the western half of Namibia through to much of South Africa excluding the Kalahari Desert, marginally extending into south-western Botswana. It generally prefers rocky slopes and gullies in a wide variety of habitats including semi-arid shrubland, grassland and lightly wooded areas; it may also occupy well-grazed pastures and burnt fields and fynbos.

Distribution of Long-billed 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 mainly eats insects and other invertebrates, doing most of its foraging on the ground, plucking food items from soil and grass stems. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Monogamous, territorial solitary nester, with each male performing an aerial display in which it ascends in an undulating, fluttering flight.
  • The nest (see image below) is mainly built by the female, consisting of an open cup of dry grass and plant stems and lined with finer grass and rootlets. It is typically placed on a slope beneath a rock overhang, or alternatively it can be wedged between a rock and dense grass tuft.
Anthus similis (Long-billed pipit)  

Long-billed pipit nest with chick, Luneburg, South Africa.[photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from August-April, peaking from about October-December.
  • It lays 1-4 eggs stone-coloured or whitish eggs, densely spotted with grey, brown and violet markings.
  • The chicks are fed by both adults, leaving the nest after about 13-14 days. If the brood is approached by a predator the parents pretend to be injured, so as to lure it away.


Not threatened.


  • 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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