Wednesday, January 2, 2008

American Pipits chill-out in Pickaway County, Ohio

Fourteen cold American Pipits (Anthus rubescens) reluctantly left the roadway to allow my vehicle to pass, then immediately returned to the roadway along Pickaway County's Canal Road. Several chose the blacktop for landing, waddle-stepping, tail-pumping, then sitting on their legs, feathers ruffled for warmth, as if the blacktop offered just a little more warmth. Others landed along gravelly edges to peck roadside gravel. Weather brought them into view: A New Year snowfall drifted under stiff breeze (8-15 mph) while bitter cold (14 F) froze surrounding moist agricultural fields preferred by pipits.

Snowy weather brings pipits to the roadside where they are easy to see. At other times they remain in barren fields where they are easily overlooked. This bird was photographed along Canal Road January 2, 2008.

American Pipits are common migrants through Ohio during the Fall. Most depart by early December, though some linger and are counted on Ohio Christmas Bird Counts each year. American Pipits were found on zero to three Ohio CBC's 1970 through the 90's (six CBC's in 85th count, four in 95th), then in the 2000's more and more frequently (a high of 19 CBC's in the 104th count). Bruce Peterjohn ranks them casual to rare through the first half of January and accidental thereafter (The Birds Of Ohio, 2001).

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