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Eurasian tree pipit


With an average body length of 15 cm, the Eurasian tree pipit is about the same size as a house sparrow. However, it is more delicate and slender than the latter and thus appears visually larger. The wing length of male birds averages just under 90 mm, while the wings of females are about four to five mm shorter.

The body weight of the Eurasian tree pipit during the breeding period is about 22 to 24 grams. At the beginning of the autumn migration, the birds are regularly heavier; particularly well-fed birds can then weigh over 30 grams. Eurasian tree pipits on their return flight from their wintering grounds in Africa have occasionally been found to weigh as little as 16 grams.

The plumage does not differ between the sexes. The upperparts are yellowish to olive brown with diffuse blackish longitudinal stripes, which are more pronounced on the upper part of the head. The rump and uppertail coverts are slightly greener than the rest of the upperparts and are only faintly streaked in some individuals. The underparts are cream to yellowish with a strong streak on the breast and crop sides. The throat, breast and sides of the neck are more yellow. The stripes on the flanks are clearly less broad than on the breast. The outer feathers are partially white. The wing coverts are lightly fringed, forming two light, cream-coloured wing bands. The fringes formed by the tip fringes of the middle arm coverts are the most distinct. The tail overhangs the wing tips by about 3.5 cm.

Above the eye is a pale supercilium, not always clearly visible. The iris is dark brown, the eye ring formed by two rows of feathers is cream-coloured. The nostrils are exposed. The upper side of the beak and the tip of the lower bill are blackish brown. The rest of the lower beak becomes lighter towards the root and the lower chin and is yellowish to flesh coloured. The legs are reddish flesh-coloured, while the feet are pinkish to yellowish flesh-coloured. The talons are pale horn-coloured.

Species-specific to the Eurasian tree pipit is a strongly curved hind talon, which can be between 6.6 and 8.6 mm long. Compared to the hind toe, it is either shorter or at most the same length. In larks as well as in the other members of the peepers, the hind toe is longer and less curved. 

possible confusion with other bird species

The meadow pipit is so similar to the Eurasian tree pipit that its flight and way of life, as well as its song, must be used for identification - in addition to a few minor distinguishing features in body structure and plumage colouration. The characteristic features of the Eurasian tree pipit, described above, can only be used for identification in the field under very good observation conditions. In contrast to the more delicate meadow pipit, the Eurasian tree pipit has a stronger beak and a more yellowish breast. 

The woodlark, which can also be observed in the habitat of the Eurasian tree pipit and has a similar plumage colouration to the Eurasian tree pipit, can be distinguished from it by its much shorter tail and its more prominent and lighter cream-coloured supercilium.


As a ground-breeding bird, the Eurasian tree pipit needs a habitat during its breeding period which, in addition to a stand of tall trees or shrubs, has enough open spaces with a sufficiently dense herb layer. Accordingly, Eurasian tree pipits are absent from extensive arable landscapes or grassland areas. The bird is not tied to a particular tree species. It occurs in coniferous forests as well as in deciduous or mixed deciduous forests. 

In addition to scattered, sunny forest edges, clear-cuts, afforestation areas and forest clearings as the most important breeding habitats, Eurasian tree pipits also use heaths, vineyards and moors, provided they have sufficient tree cover and a dense herb layer. Sun-exposed sites are preferred. They are rarely seen in cemeteries, orchards or parks because the herb layer is usually not dense enough.

The altitudinal distribution of the Eurasian tree pipit is also influenced by the presence of herbaceous or dwarf shrub layers. It regularly occurs up to the tree line. In the Alps, it breeds up to an altitude of 2300 m, and in Austria the bird's main distribution is even in the montane zone of the Alps.

The text is a translation of an excerpt from Wikipedia ( On wikipedia the text is available under a „Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike“ licence. Status: 22 November 2021