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A photo of a Brown Creeper (Certhia americana)
Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper

Certhia americana

The Brown Creeper, Certhia americana, is a diminutive songbird, cloaked in a mottled brown plumage that mirrors the bark of the trees it so loves to ascend. Its underparts are a stark white, providing a contrast as sharp as the divide between earth and sky. The bird's bill is slender and decurved, an adaptation for gleaning insects from crevices, while its tail is stiff and supportive, an essential tool for its upward tree-climbing endeavors.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify this elusive creature, look for a bird smaller than a White-breasted Nuthatch but larger than a Golden-crowned Kinglet. The male Brown Creeper's bill is marginally more robust than that of the female, a subtle clue for the discerning observer. Their wingspan stretches between 17 to 20 centimeters, a span that belies their lightness, weighing a mere 5.7 to 8.5 grams.

Habitat

The Brown Creeper is a denizen of mature forests, with a particular affinity for the coniferous kind. These birds are also known to inhabit mixed woodlands and can be found in drier forests, including those dominated by Engelman Spruce and larch.

Distribution

This species graces North America with both migratory and resident populations. They breed in the coniferous forests of Canada, Alaska, and parts of the United States, retreating to the southern U.S. outside the breeding season. Some populations remain year-round residents in their chosen locales.

Behaviour

The Brown Creeper is a master of arboreal stealth, creeping up tree trunks in a helical fashion, meticulously probing the bark for sustenance. It rarely descends to the forest floor, preferring the verticality of its woody realm.

Song & Calls

The vocal repertoire of the Brown Creeper includes high-pitched, piercing calls, reminiscent of a 'see' or 'swee'. Their song is a melodious sequence, often resembling 'pee pee willow wee' or 'see tidle swee', echoing the timbre of their calls. Regional variations in song complexity exist, with some populations delivering longer, more syllabic serenades.

Breeding

During the breeding season, which typically commences in April, the female constructs a cupped nest beneath detached bark or within tree cavities. Clutches consist of 3 to 7 eggs, with both parents sharing the duties of incubation and chick rearing.

Similar Species

The Brown Creeper's cryptic plumage and behavior make it a unique species within its range, with no other North American bird exhibiting such specialized tree-climbing behavior and morphology.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Brown Creeper is primarily composed of small arthropods, which it gleans from the bark of trees. In the winter months, it may supplement its diet with seeds.

Conservation status

The Brown Creeper is currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. However, it faces threats from habitat loss due to logging and climate change, which could impact the availability of its preferred mature forest habitats.

Brown Creeper Sounds

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Brown Creepers on Birda

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A photo of a Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla)

Short-toed Treecreeper

Certhia brachydactyla
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