Subject: Re: Pipit types
Date: Sep 20 16:34:53 1994
From: Dennis Paulson - dpaulson at

>Harry Nehls and I were standing on the Shorebird flats at the South Jetty of
>the Columbia River watching pipits fly over (we had had a report of
>a few days earlier) and got to talking about pink-legged American Pipits.
>Can they be safely identified as _japonicus_ type or could they be juveniles
>of expected American types? How often do folks see _japonicus_?
>I know I see pink-legged birds with far more frequency than "rare in Western
>Alaska" might suggest.
>******************************** Nothing at the top, but a bucket and a mop
>* Mike Patterson, Astoria, OR * and an illustrated book about birds
>* mpatters at * see a lot up there, but don't be scared.
>******************************** Who needs action when you got words? KC

You have hit upon something, Mike. I don't remember where I saw recently
that people were seeing 'japonicus' pipits on the west coast, but at the
time I wondered whether we were in for a spate of vagrant *subspecies*
sight reports (especially of subspecies that might be elevated to species
rank). I figured japonicus Am. Pipits were about as unlikely as
Red-throated (or more so?), so how could there all of a sudden be a bunch
of them? Well, I just looked at a tray of Am. Pipits from the west, and,
while most of the skins had black legs (including our 2 recent specimens),
some had very reddish/pink legs, from both spring and fall. I then looked
in 6 books with Am. pipit photos, and the legs looked dark brown to black
in all but one, in which they looked brownish-red. I don't think that black
legs would dry to red in a study skin, but perhaps brown legs might.

An interesting observation and one that needs much more field checking,
obviously. I just spent a weekend at Leadbetter Point, hoping to see a lot
of pipits, and there were virtually none.

Speaking of Leadbetter, and to respond briefly to David Buckley's query (I
thought someone else would do so by now), the WOS meeting went well, and I
think everyone had a good time. My birding highlights included 4 Elegant
Terns at the North Jetty (the only ones in WA this year, apparently), 13
Great Egrets in a bunch on the bay side of Leadbetter, 2 Peregrines driving
pintails into the water at the Willapa Refuge, 2 not fully fledged Snowy
Plovers way out on Leadbetter, and a runt Baird's Sandpiper (feeding with
Westerns and exactly the same size--very unusual!!!) in the same area. It
was good to see old friends and make new ones.

I was hoping to contact you and try to pick up that Brewer's Sparrow, Mike,
but I was with others and we just didn't have the time. Hope it's not
taking up valuable ice cream space.

Dennis Paulson