1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pipit

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PIPIT (cognate with Lat. Pipio; see PIGEON), the name applied by ornithologists to a group of birds having a great resemblance both in habits and appearance to the larks (q.v.). They differ from larks in several important characters, and, having been first separated to form the genus Anthus, which has since been much broken up, are now generally associated with the wagtails (q.v.) in the Passerine family Motacillidae. Pipits, of which over fifty species have been described, occur in almost all parts of the world, but in North America are represented by only two species—Neocorys spraguii, the prairie-lark of the north-western plains, and Anthus ludovicianus, the American titlark, which last is very nearly allied to the so-called water-pipit of Europe, A. spipoletta. To most English readers the best known species of pipit is the titlark or meadow-pipit, A. pratensis, a bird too common to need description, and abundant on pastures, moors, and uncultivated districts generally; but in some localities the tree-pipit, A. trivialis, or A. arboreus of some authors, takes its place, and where it does so it usually attracts attention by its loud song, which is not unlike that of a canary, but delivered (as appears to be the habit of all the pipits) on the wing and during a short circuitous flight. Another species, the rock-lark, A. obscurus, scarcely ever leaves the sea-coast, and is found almost all round th British Islands. The South-African genus Macronyx, remarkable for the extreme length of its hind claw, is generally placed among the pipits, but differs from all the rest in its brighter coloration, which has a curious resemblance to the American genus Sturnella (see Icterus), though the bird is certainly not allied thereto.

(A. N.).