American Pipits at Goose Spit

I went out to Goose Spit this weekend hoping to relocate and photograph a Snowy Owl that had been reported there earlier in the week. I didn’t find the Snowy but did get some great looks at another interesting bird that turns up on our beaches in the winter time – the American Pipit (Anthus rubescens).

American Pipit (Anthus rubescens)
One of two American Pipits (Anthus rubescens) that was enjoying the brief sunshine before the hail storm rolled in at Goose Spit, Comox, British Columbia.

When you see an American Pipit you know that it is something that is a little different from the typical Song Sparrow that you often see in the driftwood above the high tideline. At first glance, it sort of looks like a Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) with its light colouration and streaky breast, but the shape and size isn’t quite right (compare with this photo of a Savannah Sparrow). The American Pipit is more slender and its bill is much thinner than that of a sparrow. One of the distinguishing features of this pipit is a slow, deliberate bobbing of the tail when it is resting. In flight, the outer tail feathers show white.

I watched the two American Pipits for a while as they worked the upper beach and washed up seaweed at Goose Spit in Comox, British Columbia in the late morning sun. There were plenty of flies on the seaweed and I imagine that some of those were lunch for these two birds. While I didn’t see any owls, these two birds made up for it!