Bird's Eye View of Bute

Meadow Pipits

(1) Meadow Pipit
(1) Meadow Pipit
(2) Meadow Pipit
(2) Meadow Pipit
(3) Meadow Pipit
(3) Meadow Pipit
(4) Meadow Pipit
(4) Meadow Pipit
(5) Meadow Pipit
(5) Meadow Pipit

 

 

A BIRDS EYE VIEW OF BUTE

Today, we look at the Meadow Pipit a small bird that is on the menu for lunch by a few other species. Hen Harriers, Merlins, Magpies, Jays, even Kestrels will put them on their menu if voles etc. are in short supply. They have a hard job just to survive, and although the Cuckoo does not eat them; they are responsible for hundreds of eggs not hatching, so read on!


The bulk of the Meadow Pipit's nest higher up in the moors, with their nest well hidden in a tussock of grass, only to leave it if you are ready to stand on it, but the Hen Harrier is fly, it lays its eggs, so that theirs will hatch out just as the meadow pipit's chicks are learning to fly, and as they may have up to five chicks to feed, they have their work cut out, but pipit chicks are easy prey, and as there are hundreds of fledglings in the moors, at more or less at the same time, food -is-a- plenty.


Pipits have a hard time of it.

Next, is the Cuckoo looking for the pipit's nests, so that they can lay their single egg in it, and this egg may be a lot larger than the pipit's, but will have the same colour and markings, so as to fool the pipit. They are very clever birds as they seem to be able to tell how fresh the pipit’s eggs are, so that theirs will hatch out first. If the eggs are not fresh, they will seek out another nest, then, lay their egg, then take one of the Meadows Pipits and eat it and when its chick hatches out it will heave all the pipit's eggs over the side of the nest, to smash on the ground.

Egg laid, they then go in search of another and do the same. This will go on until it has laid 15-25 eggs, one in each nest. If you go to the top end of egg laying for each species, you will see what the problem is.
Meadow Pipit= Five eggs laid.
Cuckoo= Twenty Five eggs laid.
Result One Hundred and Twenty Five Pipit's eggs lost, and that is for one Cuckoo only.
Just as well that Cuckoo's are thin on the ground, and they are not all females.
Pipits are classic 'little brown birds' that look like a small song thrush, hard at times to see as they blend in with their surroundings. They have a thin squeaky call,
and white outer tail feathers. Which is a big help in identification?

Confusion with Rock Pipits may cause you a bit of a problem, but Meadow Pipit's
have pinkish legs, Rock Pipit's have dark ones.
Rock Pipit's outer tail feathers are grey.
At this time of year they leave the ground, fly up a short distance and parachute to the ground, trilling as they descend. (June 2007)

Norrie Mulholland

First Published in the Buteman 15-06-2007

A few mistakes rectified 03-10-2012.


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