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First record of Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus in Central America

  • Eisermann & Avendaño Bird Studies Guatemala
Esteban Matías & Knut Eisermann 383 Bull. B.O.C. 2018 138(4)
© 2018 The Authors; This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the
Creative Commons Aribution-NonCommercial Licence, which permits unrestricted use,
distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
First record of Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus in
Central America
by Esteban Matías & Knut Eisermann
Received 16 July 2018; revised 23 September 2018; published 14 December 2018
More than 40 species of Anthus pipits are currently recognised worldwide (Tyler 2004).
Many are long-distance migrants and most are dicult to identify in the eld (Hall 1961,
King 1981, Alström et al. 2003). Fourteen species occur in the New World, of which eight
breed in South America, two regularly nest in North America, and four are vagrants (AOU
1998, Tyler 2004, Remsen et al. 2018). Just two species have been recorded in Central America.
American Pipit A. rubescens, which breeds in northern North America and northern Asia
(AOU 1998, Tyler 2004), is a rare winter visitor to southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize,
El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica (Marshall 1943, Howell & Webb 1995, Jones 2003,
Eisermann & Avendaño 2007, Jones & Komar 2012; K. Murphy eBird S40583526, Macaulay
Library photo 75509601) and Yellowish Pipit A. lutescens, a mainly South American species,
is resident in Panama (Ridgely & Gwynne 1989). Here we report a record of Red-throated
Pipit A. cervinus in the Guatemalan highlands.
On 15 April 2018, EM photographed a pipit in rocky grassland at Sierra Los Cuchumatanes,
2 km east of La Capellanía (15°24’38.7”N, 91°25’55.3”W), dpto. Huehuetenango, at 3,100 m
(Fig. 1). The rufous face, supercilium, throat and upper breast are unique in the genus
Anthus to adult Red-throated Pipit A. cervinus (Alström et al. 2003, Tyler 2004). Although
the sexes cannot be distinguished with certainty, those with extensive rufous and only weak
streaking on the upper breast are probably males (Alström et al. 2003).
The observation is notable because it is the rst record of Red-throated Pipit in Central
America. In the Neotropics, the species was previously reported only in central and southern
Mexico and Ecuador. Mexican records away from the Baja Peninsula include singles in the
Pacic slope lowlands of Michoacán in April 1988 (Howell & Webb 1989), Colima in March
1992 (Howell & Webb 1995) and Oaxaca in November 2008 (Gómez de Silva 2009). In coastal
Ecuador, a rst-winter was documented in March 2008 (Brinkhuizen et al. 2010).
Figure 1. Adult Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus, Sierra Los Cuchumatanes, dpto. Huehuetenango,
Guatemala, 15 April 2018: (a) rocky grassland habitat with the bird in the centre of the image, (b) close-up
view of the bird (Esteban Matías)
Esteban Matías & Knut Eisermann 384 Bull. B.O.C. 2018 138(4)
© 2018 The Authors; This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the
Creative Commons Aribution-NonCommercial Licence, which permits unrestricted use,
distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Red-throated Pipit breeds mainly in Arctic tundra from northern Europe (in Scandinavia)
to northern Asia (Dementiev & Gladkov 1954, Glu von Bloheim & Bauer 1985), but also
in Alaska (Kessel & Gibson 1978). Wintering areas are mainly in the Old World tropics.
Western populations (breeding from Scandinavia to the Taimyr Peninsula) are thought to
winter in Africa, and eastern populations (east of the Taimyr to Alaska) mainly in South-
East Asia (Glu von Bloheim & Bauer 1985). Some individuals of the laer population
migrate instead south along the eastern Pacic seaboard, indicated by records in the
western USA (Roberson 1980, King 1981, Hamilton et al. 2007), Mexico (Howell & Webb
1989, 1995, Erickson et al. 2013), Ecuador (Brinkhuizen et al. 2010) and now Guatemala. The
species is now observed almost annually, sometimes in autumn ocks of up to 15 birds,
on the Baja California Peninsula, where small numbers winter in the south in some years
(Erickson et al. 2012; S. N. G. Howell in li. 2018). Bird migration routes can be altered
by unusual weather conditions (e.g. strong winds), but also by evolutionary processes,
e.g. access to more favourable wintering grounds (Berthold et al. 1992, Berthold 2001).
Causes of the apparent recent increase in numbers of Red-throated Pipit wintering in the
Americas are unknown. It is possible that the species is more frequent in Middle America
than the few records suggest. All pipits in the region should be well documented, because
especially rst-winter birds represent identication challenges (see Brinkhuizen et al. 2010).
Other long-distance migrant Anthus could exceptionally occur in Central America, namely
Sprague’s Pipit A. spragueii which winters in Mexico (Howell & Webb 1995), and three Old
World species reported as vagrants in North America (AOU 1998): Tree Pipit A. trivialis,
Olive-backed Pipit A. hodgsoni and Pechora Pipit A. gustavi.
We thank Steve N. G. Howell and Guy M. Kirwan for comments on the manuscript and editorial input.
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Esteban Matías & Knut Eisermann 385 Bull. B.O.C. 2018 138(4)
© 2018 The Authors; This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the
Creative Commons Aribution-NonCommercial Licence, which permits unrestricted use,
distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Addresses: Esteban Matías, Coordinator of Commissions of Natural Resources in the Parque Regional
Municipal “K’ojlab’l Tze’ Te’ Tnom Todos Santos Cuchumatán”, Consejo Nacional de reas Protegidas
(CONAP), Todos Santos Cuchumatán, dpto. Huehuetenango, Guatemala, e-mail: esteban.matias@ Knut Eisermann, PROEVAL RAXMU Bird Monitoring Program, Cobán, dpto. Alta
Verapaz, Guatemala, e-mail:
... It is rare south of 05°S in East Africa, and south of the equator across the rest of its wintering range. However, being a long-distance migrant, it is prone to wandering: the species is regularly recorded in coastal California in autumn (Tyler 2004) and has reached Guatemala (Matías & Eisermann 2018) and even Ecuador (Brinkhuizen et al. 2010). It has also been recorded in Australia (Carter 1997) at 18°S. ...
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Première mention documentée par des photographies du Pipit à gorge rousse Anthus cervinus en Namibie et l'Afrique australe. Un Pipit à gorge rousse Anthus cervinus de deuxième année a été observé au barrage Avis, Windhoek, Namibie, du 7 janvier au 16 février 2015. Il s'agit probablement de la deuxième donnée pour la Namibie et peut-être la septième pour l'Afrique australe (certaines données n'étant pas confirmées à ce jour), mais la première pour la sous-région qui est confirmée par des photos.
... " The Ecuador record "supports the idea that some of these birds wander even further south to winter in the Neotropics". Lending further credence to this idea is the subsequent first record of Redthroated Pipit for Central America sensu strictu, in montane Guatemala in April 2018 (Matías & Eisermann 2018). ...
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Un Bisbita Gorgirrojo Anthus cervinus fue observado y fotografiado el 28 de marzo del 2008 en la playa de Río Verde, provincia de Esmeraldas, Ecuador. Basados en nuestras fotos podemos identificar el pájaro y excluir todas las otras especies de bisbita. Una combinación de múltiples características solo encaja en esta especie. Bisbita Gorgirrojo es un migrante de largas distancias y se reproduce en la tundra ártica. La especie es un nómada raro en otoño en la costa del Pacífico con observaciones recientes en California cada año. Nuestra observación representa el registro más austral de América para la especie. En este artículo reportamos el primer registro de Bisbita Gorgirrojo para Ecuador y el continente de Sur América.
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The most authoritative, detailed, and updated checklist of the 725 bird species recorded in Guatemala. Also includes information about status, habitats and endemic species, along with detailed distribution maps, information on species to watch for and species of special concern.
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Bird migration: a general survey
  • P Berthold
Berthold, P. 2001. Bird migration: a general survey. Second edn. Oxford Univ. Press.
Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas
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