Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper

American treecreeper

Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Certhia americana
Population size
11 mln
Life Span
4 yrs
WEIGHT
5-10 g
LENGTH
12-14 cm
WINGSPAN
17-20 cm

The Brown creeper is a tiny songbird associated with the biggest trees it can find. It looks like a piece of bark that has come to life: this bird crawls up tree trunks, foraging for insect eggs and other food missed by more active birds. Easily overlooked, its thin, reedy, piercing call indicates its presence. Reaching the top of a tree, it flutters to the base of the next, to begin spiraling its way up again.

Di

Diurnal

Ca

Carnivore

In

Insectivores

Ar

Arboreal

Al

Altricial

Sc

Scansorial

Te

Territorial

Ov

Oviparous

Co

Congregatory

Se

Serial monogamy

So

Solitary

Pa

Partial Migrant

B

starts with

Ca

Camouflaged Animals
(collection)

Ti

Tiny Animals
(collection)

Distribution

Geography

Brown creepers live throughout North America, from northern Nicaragua up to Canada, Alaska, and Newfoundland. In most of the range, it is resident, but populations in the north migrate southwards in winter, apart from high mountain regions. Brown creepers breed in coniferous or mixed forest areas. They need large trees, alive or dead, for nesting and foraging.

Brown Creeper habitat map

Habits and Lifestyle

Brown creepers are diurnal and active birds that usually fly short distances between trees. They are usually seen alone outside the breeding season, though sometimes they may join a foraging flock of songbirds. Communal roosting may take place during winter. Brown creepers forage on tree trunks and branches, typically spiraling upwards from the bottom of a tree trunk, and then flying down to the bottom of another tree. They creep slowly with their body flattened against the bark, probing with their beak for insects. They will rarely feed on the ground. When alarmed, Brown creepers use their super camouflage pattern, landing on a tree trunk, flattening their body, and spreading their wings. When remaining motionless, they look just like bark. Brown creepers communicate mainly through vocalizations. When fighting for territory, males will sing a high-pitched song. Males also use vocalizations during the breeding season, making high and thin sounds that vary within a population.

Group name
Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition

Brown creepers are carnivores (insectivores). They mainly eat small arthropods found in the bark but sometimes will eat seeds in winter.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
mid-May to mid-June
INCUBATION PERIOD
13-17 days
INDEPENDENT AGE
30-32 days
BABY NAME
chick
BABY CARRYING
3-7 eggs

A Brown creeper is serially monogamous and a pair remains together for several weeks after fledging. The male uses his songs when attracting a mate. Then the male and female chase each other, fluttering rapidly while displaying their white underparts. These birds breed from mid-May until mid-June. Their nesting site is chosen by the pair, but the female builds the nest, with the male sometimes bringing her nest material. The nest is 5 to 15 feet from the ground and is often situated between the trunk of a dead tree and some loose bark, or in a natural cavity. 3 to 7 creamy or white eggs are laid, having fine, small, brown dots. Incubation is for 13 to 17 days, starting when the last egg has been laid. Only the female incubates, but the male feeds her at this time. The female broods the altricial chicks during bad weather, and both the parents feed them. Young fledge at around 15 to 17 days, but their parents feed them for 15 more days at least. They reach maturity at around one year of age.

Population

Population threats

Brown creeper populations are listed as threatened or endangered in several states, being threatened by habitat loss as well as degradation of the population’s breeding range, and the disappearance of large wooded regions.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the Brow creeper is 11 million mature individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are increasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • To climb easily along a tree trunk, a Brown creeper uses its stiffly pointed tail feathers to support itself against the trunk.
  • Female brown creepers take 1 to 4 weeks to construct a nest, made with twigs, conifer needles, mosses, and silk from spider webs.
  • A hammock-like nest is built behind a loose flap of bark on a tree that is dead or dying. Naturalists did not discover this unique nesting strategy until 1879.
  • In winter, young gather in groups to roost together for warmth.
  • In Arizona, the nest of a Brown creeper often has two openings: the first for an entrance and the second for an exit. Entrances face downward while exits face upward.
  • Wildlife managers will sometimes use this bird as an indicator species for gauging the effects on wildlife habitat of logging.
  • Sometimes creepers will build their nests in unusual places, e.g. in or under roofs, behind window shutters, or inside fence posts or concrete blocks. One family was brought up in a special box made from Douglas-fir bark.
  • A group of creepers is called a "spiral" or a "sleeze" of creepers.

References

1. Brown Creeper Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_creeper
2. Brown Creeper on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22711244/0
3. Xeno-canto bird call - https://xeno-canto.org/700964

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