Brown Creeper: Small, tree-clinging bird with brown-streaked upperparts and white underparts. White line over eye and long, decurved bill are conspicuous. Legs and feet are pink-buff. Feeds on insects, larvae, nuts and seeds. Strong direct flights of short duration on rapid and shallow wing beats.
Range and Habitat
Brown Creeper: Breeds from Alaska to Newfoundland and southward to the western and northern U.S. Spends winters in breeding range and south to the Gulf coast and Florida. Preferred habitats include deciduous and mixed woodlands.
The PASSERIFORMES (pronounced pas-ser-i-FOR-meez) is a large taxonomic order that includes the larks, starlings, thrushes, and treecreepers among its one hundred eighteen families of birds.
The Certhiidae (pronounced sirth-EYE-uh-dee) family, or treecreepers, is composed of ten species of treecreepers in two genera mostly occurring in the northern Hemisphere.
In North America, one species of treecreeper in one genus occurs; the Brown Creeper.
The Brown Creeper is known for its habit of hitching up tree trunks. Starting near the base of a tree, it moves up in a spiral manner, flying down to the base of another tree when it gets near the top.
The Brown Creeper, like other members of the Certhiidae, is a small bird with short wings, a short neck, and a thin, slightly downcurved bill. It has a medium length tail that has strong, slightly curved feathers to help it climb trees, and its legs are fairly short with strong toes; another adaptation for tree climbing.
The Brown Creeper is dark brown with white streaking and spotting above to provide camouflage on the tree trunks it forages on. It has a prominent white streak above the eye, rusty coloration in the wings and tail, and is white on the underparts.
The one Certhiidae species occurring in North America breeds in the mixed hardwood and coniferous forests of the northeastern United States, southern Canada, the west coast of both countries, and in the Rocky Mountains. It also occurs in coniferous mountain forests of Mexico and Central America. During the winter, it is found in wooded habitats in much of the United States.
The Brown Creeper is a short distance migrant to much of the lower forty-eight states.
Only forming pairs during the breeding season, the Brown Creeper does not associate with other creepers at other times, but often joins mixed flocks of chickadees and nuthatches. It forages for insects and spiders in the nooks and crevices of tree trunks by picking them off the trunk and out of their hiding places as it hitches up the tree in brief hops similar to the manner in which woodpeckers move up tree trunks.
The Brown Creeper is a fairly common species and is not threatened in North America.
When a predator such as a Sharp-shinned Hawk is sighted, the Brown Creeper “freezes” against a tree trunk with its wings slightly open in the hopes that its camouflage will keep it hidden in plain sight.