Larks & Pipits

Though in different families, both the horned lark and American pipit are similar-sized birds found in the open subalpine to alpine areas of the park. The two species often nest near each other at high elevations and occasionally forage together in flocks during non-breeding seasons.


Larks - Order Passeriformes, Family Alaudidae

A bird stands on a rock in a shrubby meadow.
Horned Lark (female)

NPS/S. Redman Photo

Horned Lark
Eremophila alpestris

Habitat: subalpine
Seasons: occasional spring-fall
Size: length 7.25 in (18.4 cm), wingspan 12 in (30.5 cm)
Horned Lark Calls

Horned lark coloring can vary with region. In Pacific Northwest populations, males have a dark reddish "shawl" over the shoulders, with yellow on the face, throat, and breast. The yellow is broken by a black mask and breastband. Females are grey-brown, with some yellow on the throat and a brown breastband. Both sexes have square, black tails edged in white with pale central feathers. Horned larks are found in open, subalpine areas in the park.


Pipits - Family Motacillidae

A brown-streaked bird standing on a rock.
American Pipit

Crow Vecchio Photo

American Pipit
Anthus rubescens

Habitat: subalpine
Seasons: common summer-fall
Size: length 6.5 in (16.5 cm), wingspan 10.5 in (26.6 cm)
American Pipit Calls

Pipits can have some variation in coloring. Darker adults have dark streaks on breast and belly, while pale adults do not have streaks. Individuals can range between the two extremes. In general, pipits have grey-brown backs with faint streaks, and buff-colored throats, breasts, and bellies. They have long tails with some white on the outer feathers, and they bob thier tails when standing. Pipits are ground feeders with distinctive long, dark legs.

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Last updated: January 15, 2021

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