Migratory Bird Program
Conserving the Nature of America
Focal Species

Sprague’s Pipit (Anthus spragueii)

The Sprague’s Pipit (Anthus spragueii) is identified as a focal species of conservation concern in the United States and is listed in Canada under COSEWIC. This level of concern is due to population declines related to the substantial loss of native grasslands over the last two centuries. Sprague’s Pipits are endemic to native grasslands in southern Canada and the northern Great Plains of Montana and North Dakota, with historical breeding in South Dakota, and the Red River Valley of Minnesota. Conversion of native grasslands to agriculture probably significantly reduced the total global population size of Sprague’s Pipit to current levels.

Populations are still threatened by the loss and conversion of breeding habitat to agriculture and human development. Overgrazing by cattle and the invasion by exotic grasses has further reduced the quality of much of their breeding habitats. In addition, loss, conversion, fragmentation, and degradation of grasslands on their wintering grounds are continuing threats. Sprague’s Pipits are one of the least-studied birds in North America, in part due to their elusive behavior and habit of singing high above the ground.


Committee on the Status of Endangered Wlldlife in Canada (COSEWIC).  2000.  COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Sprague’s Pipit Anthus spragueii in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Environment Canada. 2008. Recovery Strategy for the Sprague’s Pipit (Anthus spragueii) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa.

Robbins, M. B., and B. C. Dale. 1999. Sprague's Pipit (Anthus spragueii). The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved May 2009 from http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/439.


Sprague’s Pipit

Sprague's Pipit

Sprague’s Pipit - Photo by Greg Lavaty

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Last updated: December 2, 2011