Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis


Justification of Red List Category
This species has been uplisted to Near Threatened as its global population has probably declined by more than 25% over the last three generations, and is continuing to decline, thus approaching the threshold for Vulnerable under the population size reduction criterion (A2abc+3bc+4abc).

Population justification
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 9,670,000-15,000,000 pairs, which equates to approximately 19,300,000-30,000,000 mature individuals and 28,950,000-45,000,000 individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms 75-94% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 20,500,000-40,000,000 mature individuals and 30,800,000-60,000,000 individuals although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
In Europe, trends since 1980 show that populations have undergone a moderate decline (p<0.01), based on provisional data for 21 countries from the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (EBCC/RSPB/BirdLife/Statistics Netherlands; P. Vorisek in litt. 2008). Recently published data for the European Red List of Birds shows that the population size in Europe is estimated to be decreasing at a rate approaching 30% in 11.4 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015). No information is available about the trends of the Russian breeding population, which extends just east of the Ural Mountains into West Siberia, but the Russian population comprises only c. 15% of the European population (BirdLife International 2015). The global population is therefore thought to be declining at a moderately rapid rate.

Distribution and population

This species is widespread across Europe. Its range extends from eastern Greenland (Denmark) in the west, across northern Europe to the central and southern high mountains and to the River Ob, east of the Urals, Russia. Small isolated populations are also found in the central Apennines in Italy and in the mountains along the border of Georgia and Armenia (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997). Western European populations are largely resident or undertake partial migration (Tyler 2004). Northern and eastern populations winter in western, central and southern Europe into coastal north Africa and the Middle East, moving as far south as south-west Mauritania. Birds breeding in western Siberia migrate to south-west Asia from Iraq and Iran east to Uzbekistan.


This species breeds in a wide range of open habitats, such as tundra, moorland and heathland, bogs, saltmarshes, dunes, coastal meadows, hillsides, forest clearings, fallow land and occasionally in arable land. In the winter it is also found along seashores. It breeds from late March to August. The nest is a neat cup of grass, lined with finer grass and hair and is concealed amongst vegetation on the ground. Clutches range from two to seven eggs and clutch size increases with latitude (Tyler 2004). It feeds mainly on invertebrates but does consume some plant seeds in the autumn and winter (Snow and Perrins 1998).


The main cause of declines is thought to be agricultural intensification (Tyler 2004, L. Raudonikis in litt. 2015). Populations undergo large annual fluctuations dependent on the severity of the weather on migration and in its wintering areas (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997). Declines in northern European populations breeding on virgin, open mires and on montane tundra (Virkkala & Rajasärkkä 2011, Lehikoinen et al. 2014) also suggest that climate change may be having a negative effect on this species (R. Virkkala in litt. 2016); while increased drought as a result of climate change may lead to a large loss of potential winter range in areas such as the southern lowlands of the Iberian peninsula and the Maghreb (Tellería et al. 2016).

Conservation actions

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species.

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
The maintenance and promotion of low-intensity farming methods may benefit this species. Investigate the benefits alternative land management practices may specifically have for this species, in addition to their possible more general benefits for species (e.g. Chiron et al. 2010, Peach et al. 2011). Research is needed to identify threats.


14.5-15 cm. Small streaked pipit, earth-brown/greenish orange-brown with broad brownish-black streaks on top of head, mantle, scapulars and back. Wings darker. Tail dark brown. Underparts white/grey/yellow-buff. Throat side, breast and flanks streaked black-brown. Juvenile more buff-brown with more obvious streaking. Voice Aerial song a series of segments of uniform notes. Call a thin high-pitched squeak often repeated.


Text account compilers
Westrip, J., Butchart, S., Wright, L, Ashpole, J, Pople, R., Ekstrom, J., Burfield, I., Ieronymidou, C., Wheatley, H.

Telleria-Jorge, J., Virkkala, R., Raudonikis, L.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Anthus pratensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/02/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/02/2020.