Most species in the family inhabit open country, but a few are associated with woodland, forest or riparian vegetation. The forest wagtail occurs in forests and woodlands, the mountain wagtail is found along the banks of fast-flowing streams in forests and the gray wagtail occupies well-vegetated waterside habitats but also sometimes occurs on streams with no vegetation cover. Eurasian woodland and forest pipits include the tree pipit, olive-backed pipit, and Pechora pipit. African species include the bush pipit (Anthus caffer), woodland pipit (A. nyassae), and Sokoke pipit (A. sokokensis).
Wagtails are found in a wide variety of open and semi-open habitats. They often occur in wet habitats, ranging from streams, rivers and open bodies of water to the edges of vegetated wetlands. Several species are associated with farmland, parks, gardens and human habitations, and may breed in buildings inside villages and towns. The yellow wagtail breeds in arctic tundra habitats as well as vegetated wetlands and meadows at lower latitudes, and occupies a wide range of open, short-vegetated, often wet habitats on its wintering grounds. On migration and in their wintering areas, migratory wagtail and pipit species often associate with each other.
Pipits occur in many habitat types, mostly open and especially grassland, from sea level to high altitudes, and the rosy pipit reaches 17,400 ft (5,300 m) in the Himalayas. Rocky shores attract the rock pipit (Anthus petrosus), while species such as the meadow pipit prefer wet meadows and grasslands.
Drier open grasslands are inhabited by many species, including almost all of those occurring in South America, while the tawny pipit inhabits dry, often sparsely vegetated regions, sometimes semi-desert and often sandy. In Africa, the yellow-tufted pipit (A. crenatus) prefers rocky hills with grass clumps and the striped pipit (A. lmeiventris) rocky sites with trees. On its nonbreeding grounds in the Philippines, Borneo, and Wal-lacea, the Arctic tundra-breeding pechora pipit frequents moist grassy areas, forest trails and coastal forests.
The longclaws are predominantly grassland birds, often occurring on moist ground at wetland edges, although the pangani longclaw (Macronyx aurantiigula) also occurs widely in grassland with acacia bushes in semi-arid country, and in West Africa the yellow-throated longclaw is also found on the seashore. Longclaw species with overlapping ranges exhibit a wider ecological tolerance in areas where other longclaw species of the same habitats are not present.
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