Pipits occur on all continents, except Antarctica, with many species that are often difficult to distinguish from each other. The American Pipit was long known as the Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta), a wide ranging species with seven subspecies occurring from the shores of Great Britain and Scandinavia, and the high mountains of Europe and central Asia, to North America. Recent taxonomic studies, however, have shown that the three North American subspecies and the most eastern asiatic subspecies are best regarded as a distinct species, now referred to as the American Pipit (A. rubescens). Nevertheless, because of the close similarity between spinoletta and rubescens, the old world literature sheds much light on the biology of the American Pipit.
The American Pipit is an inconspicuous, slender, migratory songbird that occurs throughout North America and south to El Salvador. It is one of a very few species of ground-inhabiting songbirds that breed at high altitudes in alpine meadows and on the arctic tundra. Despite its generally inhospitable habitat, this species has been relatively well-studied. Its alpine and arctic environment is ecologically relatively simple, so interactions among species are easier to understand. In addition, short summers and climatic extremes impose restrictions on the timing of this pipit's breeding cycle. How this species, and other pipits, have adapted to such extremes is a question worth investigating.
Help author an account about this species from a Neotropical perspective.