Common Name: American Pipit, Buff-bellied Pipit
Scientific Name: Anthus rubescens
Subspecies: Four subspecies are currently recognized belonging to two main groups. Morphological and DNA sequence differences between them are rather pronounced and they might be considered distinct species pending further research. The Anthus rubescens alticola is the one around Las Vegas.
Order/Family: Passeriformes/Motacillidae (wagtails, longclaws, and pipits)
Description: Like most other pipits, the buff-bellied pipit is an undistinguished-looking species which usually can be seen to run around on the ground. The rubescens subspecies (or American pipit) has lightly streaked grey-brown upperparts and is diffusely streaked below on the buff breast and flanks. The belly is whitish, the bill and legs are dark. The japonicus subspecies (or Japanese pipit) is darker above and has bolder black streaking on its whiter underparts; its legs have a reddish hue.
Distribution: It is found on both sides of the northern Pacific. It is known as “American pipit” in North America and “buff-bellied pipit” in Eurasia.
Habitat: Around Las Vegas Pipits nest at high elevations including alpine and subalpine meadows, boulder fields, and fell fields (scree slopes above timberline. In the winter they come down to the desert and open areas, often wading into shallow water, hunting insect larvae.