This is a large pipit, 16.5-18 cm long, but is an undistinguished looking species on the ground, mainly sandy brown above and pale below. It is very similar to Richard's Pipit, but is slightly smaller, has shorter legs and a shorter dark bill. It is also less streaked. Its flight is strong and direct, and it gives a characteristic "schip" call, higher pitched than Richard's.
In south Asia, in winter some care must be taken to distinguish this from other large pipits which winter or are resident in the area, including Richard's Pipit, Blyth's Pipit and Paddyfield Pipit. Tawny Pipit is insectivorous, like its relatives.
The breeding habit is dry open country including semi-deserts. The nest is on the ground, with 4-6 eggs being laid.