Wagtails and Pipits (Motacillidae)

Eastern Yellow Wagtail

Motacilla tschutschensis

Often faint, the wagtail's contact-alarm calls are made in several contexts and are probably the most frequently heard calls this species makes. Made by males and females near nest, when perched and while migrating. Birds call more loudly when circling an intruder, as in this recording. (Calls of one bird, Nome, Alaska.)
Habitat: Breeds in coastal tundra of Alaska, open ground with shrubs, along creeks, roads or ditches.

Sprague's Pipit

Anthus spragueii

Picture this. It's spring. You are standing on a knoll in an open western grassland listening to the birds when you hear a light, descending tinkling song coming from above you. This is the display song of a Sprague's Pipit flying inconspicuously in the sky. A male, having risen to 50 to 100 m above the ground, stops flapping, extends his wings, sings and then resumes flying. He stays above the same patch of land and repeats his performance over and over. The bird in this recording sang every 12 - 16 sec for more than six min (a short bout of displaying). (Valley County, Montana.)
Habitat: Breeds in dry open grasslands with no shrubs; during migration frequents grasslands, fallow fields and stubble.