Compared to other pipits, Sprague's is more buffy brown overall and less patterned in the face, accentuating the eye. It also has more white on the outer tail feathers, and appears bulky and shorter-tailed. Adult: The back and crown are dark brown with pale streaks. The wings show two indistinct whitish wing bars. The face is buffy and unmarked, with a whitish eye ring, giving the bird a wide-eyed expression. The upper mandible is dark, while the lower is pale with a dark tip. The underparts are buffy with dark streaks across the breast. The legs are pale yellowish to pinkish. Juvenile: Similar to adult, but with a more scaly pattern on the upperparts and more prominent white wing bars.
Length: 16 (cm) Wingspan: 25 (cm)
Flight call, which is typically double-noted, is a fairly loud squeaky SQUEET-SQUEET that neither ascends or descends in pitch, Note that Horned Larks have a single-note ascending SKREEE that is similar. However, the lark call is slightly higher pitched overall, distinctly upslurred and sweeter in quality. Song is a descending series: zree zree zree zree zree zree, given in flight.
Short and mixed-grass prairie. Uses stubble fields in migration.
Usually solitary or in loose widely scattered flocks. Unless alarmed, posture is crouched and horizontal allowing these birds to remain hidden in short grass and creep about in a mouse-like fashion when feeding. When alarmed, they often crane their necks and stand more upright than American Pipits. When flushed, this species flies straight up, circles high, then plummets to the ground and disappears into the grass again. On breeding grounds, males give long flight displays while singing. Unlike other pipits, Sprague's does not bob its tail.
Forages on the ground for insects, occasionally seeds.
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