Olive-backed Pipit

Anthus hodgsoni

The Olive-backed Pipit is perhaps the most distinctive of the Asian pipits that stray into the Bering Sea. This species is semi-annual in the Pribilofs, but its retiring nature makes it difficult to detect. Virtually all of the island’s (and North America’s) records come from spring (Late May through June 10), but two birds were found in late September 2004. The greenish-gray back, with thin black streaks and the white throat, buffy chest and flanks with black streaks across them are useful identification features, but the fieldmark that generally stands out first is the face pattern. Yellow lores contrast with the white eyebrow, while the white spot on the ear coverts and the dark black triangle at the end of the black malar contribute to make a striking pattern. Red-throated, Pechora, and Tree Pipits have much less contrasting facial patterns, and more heavily streaked (lighter brown) backs. Olive-backed Pipits prefer some cover, and tend to run when approached. Good places to look for this species include the rock ramparts of Kamanista, the crab pots, the slopes of Polovina and Hutchinson Hills and Zapadnie Ravine. When flushed they generally give a high, short and somewhat buzzy “spbee” call, quite different from the piercing “tseeee” of Red-throated Pipit.