Anthus vaalensis (Buffy pipit) 

Vaalkoester [Afrikaans]; Tšase (generic term for pipits) [South Sotho]; Vaal-rivierpieper [Dutch]; Pipit du Vaal [French]; Vaalpieper [German]; Petinha do Vaal [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 vaalensis (Buffy pipit) 

Buffy pipit, Mokala National Park, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ©].

Buffy pipit, Mpumalanga, South Africa. [photo Johan van Rensburg ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in sub-Equatorial Africa from southern DRC through Zambia, Malawi and Angola to southern Africa. Here it is locally common from Mozambique to South Africa (excluding the fynbos and Karoo biomes of the west), Botswana and Namibia, marginally extending into Mozambique. It generally prefers open grassy plains with patches of bare ground, overgrazed land, fallow pastures, recently burnt fields and the edges of pans.

Distribution of Buffy 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.  

Movements and migrations

Sometimes nomadic in the dry season, moving in search of areas which have experienced recent rainfall.


It mainly eats insects and other invertebrates, doing most of its foraging on the ground. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest (see image below) is an untidy cup of coarse grass, lined with fine grass and rootlets and placed in a hollow at the base of a grass tuft or rock overhang.
Anthus vaalensis (Buffy pipit)  

Buffy pipit nest with eggs, Sericea farm, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from July-February, peaking from September-December.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated for 14 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 12 days.


Not threatened, in fact it at has adapted well to overgrazing 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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