Land Bird Conservation Plan Colorado  

Executive Summary
Overview of Colorado
Physiographic Region 36
Physiographic Region 62

  • Alpine Tundra
  • Aspen
  • Cliff/Rock
  • High Elevation Riparian
  • Lowland Riparian
  • Mixed Conifer
  • Mountain Shrubland
  • Ponderosa Pine
  • Sagebrush Shrubland
  • Spruce Fir
  • Wetlands

  • Physiographic Region 87
    Implementation Strategies
    Literature Cited

    Physiographic Region 62: Southern Rocky Mountains

    American Pipit (Anthus rubescens)

    Associated Species: Uses similar alpine habitats as Horned Larks, rosy-finches, and White-tailed Ptarmigan.

    Distribution: Breeds above treeline in vegetated alpine habitats from California (Sierra and Cascade Mountains), Arizona and New Mexico (Rocky Mountains) north into Canada and Alaska, and east throughout arctic tundra habitats into Newfoundland and Greenland (Verbeek and Hendricks 1994). In Colorado, American Pipits are fairly common breeders in all mountain ranges having suitable alpine habitats. In migration they can be located in western valleys and mountain parks and in eastern plains (Andrews and Righter 1992).

    Habitat Requirements: In Colorado, American Pipit breeding habitat is characterized as alpine meadows dominated by grass and sedge vegetation, or fell fields with lush vegetation or cushion plants. Territories generally become snowfree early in the breeding season (June), are typically on gentle slopes, and have suitable topographic features (tussocks, tilted rocks, eroded turf) for nest sites (Braun 1980).

    Ecology: Pipits arrive in alpine breeding habitats in late-April or early May, but may move down slope during inclement spring weather. Nests initiated in mid-June and typically hatch in late-June or July. Remain on summering areas above treelimit into September-October. Winters in southern U.S. and Mexico, typically on barren shorelines, agricultural fields and shortgrass habitats. Diet comprised of arthropods, primarily insects in summer (Verbeek 1970, Conry 1978), and insects and vegetation in winter (Verbeek and Hendricks 1994).

    Management Issues and Conservation Recommendations: Livestock grazing, mining, recreation, water storage reservoirs, and road construction have impacted alpine tundra habitats in Colorado in the past, and are current concerns. Management should emphasize light grazing by both domestic and wild ungulates, total exclusion of off-road vehicles and snowmobiles except on maintained roads, proper engineering of mine sites, and careful evaluation of proposed roads, water storage reservoirs, ski developments, and other recreational or commercial facilities for potential impacts on American Pipits (Braun 1980). Global warming could ultimately result in forest expansion at higher elevations and a reduction of alpine tundra.

    Reasons for Concern: This species occupies a unique habitat and is representative of other species in this habitat type.

    Biological Objective: Current programs do not adequately monitor this species in Colorado or range-wide. The few intensive studies of this species suggests that breeding densities range from 0.2 to 2.1 pairs/km in suitable breeding habitat (Verbeek and Hendricks 1994). The objective should be to maintain at least current breeding densities on all alpine areas currently having populations of American Pipits, based on results from M2001 or other monitoring programs.

    Habitat Objectives: The objective should be to maintain the current distribution and extent of alpine tundra in Colorado, and to restore damaged habitats to a condition suitable for the native avifauna, including American Pipits.

    Selected References: Andrews and Righter 1992, Braun 1980, Conry 1978, Verbeek 1970, Verbeek and Hendricks 1994.

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