ⓘ Treecreeper


Certhia is the genus of birds containing the typical treecreepers, which together with the African and Indian spotted creepers make up the family Certhiidae. The typical treecreepers occur in many wooded parts of the North Temperate Zone. They do not normally migrate other than for local movements, such as altitudinal migrations in the Himalayan species. The treecreepers are small woodland birds, very similar in appearance so they can present serious identification problems where two species occur together. They are brown with streaks above and white below. They have thin pointed down-curv ...


Calcariidae is a small family of passerine birds. It includes longspurs and snow buntings. There are six species in three genera worldwide, found mainly in North America and Eurasia. They are migratory and can live in a variety of habitats including grasslands, prairies, tundra, mountains, and beaches.


ⓘ Treecreeper

The treecreepers are a family, Certhiidae, of small passerine birds, widespread in wooded regions of the Northern Hemisphere and sub-Saharan Africa. The family contains ten species in two genera, Certhia and Salpornis. Their plumage is dull-coloured, and as their name implies, they climb over the surface of trees in search of food.


1. Taxonomy and systematics

The family consists of two subfamilies, each with one genus. Their distinctive anatomical and behavioural characteristics are discussed in their respective articles.

  • Subfamily Salpornithinae, genus Salpornis, contains only the Indian spotted creeper and African spotted creeper.
  • Subfamily Certhiinae, genus Certhia, is the typical treecreepers, with seven species found in Europe and Asia, and one, the brown creeper, in North America.

Some taxonomists place the nuthatches and treecreepers in a larger grouping with the wrens and gnatcatchers. This superfamily, the Certhioidea, was based on phylogenetic studies using mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, and was created to cover a clade of four families removed from a larger grouping of passerine birds, the Sylvioidea. The fossil record for this group appears to be restricted to a foot bone of an early Miocene bird from Bavaria which has been identified as an extinct representative of the climbing Certhioidea, a clade comprising the treecreepers, wallcreeper and nuthatches. It has been described as Certhiops rummeli.

The genus name is derived from Ancient Greek kerthios, a small tree-dwelling bird described by Aristotle and others, and Latin familiaris, familiar or common.

There are two other small bird families with treecreeper or creeper in their name, which are not closely related:

  • the Philippine creepers Rhabdornithidae
  • the Australian treecreepers Climacteridae

The wallcreeper was originally described in the family Certhiidae but is now considered as more closely related to the nuthatches. The woodcreepers subfamily Dendrocolaptinae also have a similar name.


1.1. Taxonomy and systematics Species in taxonomic order

  • Bar-tailed treecreeper or Himalayan treecreeper, Certhia himalayana
  • Eurasian treecreeper or common treecreeper, Certhia familiaris
  • Brown creeper, Certhia americana
  • Short-toed treecreeper, Certhia brachydactyla
  • Humes treecreeper, Certhia manipurensis
  • Sikkim treecreeper or brown-throated treecreeper, Certhia discolor
  • Genus Certhia
  • Rusty-flanked treecreeper or Nepal treecreeper, Certhia nipalensis
  • Hodgsons treecreeper, Certhia hodgsoni
  • Sichuan treecreeper, Certhia tianquanensis
  • Genus Salpornis
  • Indian spotted creeper, Salpornis spilonotus
  • African spotted creeper, Salpornis salvadori

2. Description

Treecreepers measure from 12 to 18 centimetres in length. Their bills are gently down-curved and rather long, used for probing bark for insects and spiders. They often climb up tree trunks in a helical path, hopping with their feet together; their toes are long and tipped with strongly curved claws for gripping. The longer tails of the Certhia treecreepers are stiffened to use as a prop while climbing, but those of the spotted creeper are shorter and not stiffened. Their songs and calls are thin and high-pitched.


3. Distribution and habitat

Most species of treecreeper occur in the Palearctic and Indomalaya ecozones, from Western Europe to Japan and India. One species occurs in North America from Alaska to Nicaragua and another has a discontinuous distribution in sub-Saharan Africa and India. All species of treecreeper are found in forest and woodland habitats. The more northerly species are partly migratory, and those found in warmer climates are thought to be resident, although information is lacking for many species.


4. Behaviour and ecology

Treecreepers are generally unobtrusive and are often indifferent to humans. They occur as singles or in pairs, sometimes in small family groups after fledging. Communal roosting has been observed in three species and may occur in more, with as many as 20 birds sharing a roosting hole in order to conserve warmth.

Treecreepers forage on the trunks of large trees. They move up the trunk in a progression of small hops. They fly to the bottom of a tree, then climb in a spiral fashion searching for prey. The majority of their diet is composed of small invertebrates, including insects and their larvae, spiders, and pseudoscorpions. In hard times seeds and fruits may be taken, and a few species will also visit birdfeeders. Species in both genera have been recorded joining mixed-species feeding flocks.

The treecreepers are monogamous and territorial. Nests and eggs vary between the genera: the Certhia treecreepers usually nest in a gap between the tree bark and the tree, whereas the nest of the spotted creeper is placed in the fork of a branch. Incubation lasts 14 to 15 days, and young fledge after 15 to 16 days.

  • There are seven species of Australasian treecreeper in the passerine bird family Climacteridae. They are medium - small, mostly brown birds with patterning
  • The Eurasian treecreeper or common treecreeper Certhia familiaris is a small passerine bird also known in the British Isles, where it is the only living
  • The bar - tailed treecreeper Certhia himalayana or the Himalayan treecreeper is a species of bird in the family Certhiidae. It is found primarily in the
  • The brown treecreeper Climacteris picumnus is the largest Australasian treecreeper The bird, endemic to eastern Australia, has a broad distribution
  • The rusty - flanked treecreeper Certhia nipalensis or the Nepal treecreeper is a species of bird in the family Certhiidae. It is found in northern India
  • The Papuan treecreeper Cormobates placens is a species of bird in the family Climacteridae. It was previously considered a subspecies of the white - throated
  • other European treecreeper species, the common treecreeper with which it is easily confused where they both occur. The short - toed treecreeper tends to prefer
  • The white - throated treecreeper Cormobates leucophaea is an Australian treecreeper found in the forests of eastern Australia. It is unrelated to the northern
  • Hume s treecreeper Certhia manipurensis was earlier included within the brown - throated treecreeper complex and identified as a separate species on the
  • The White - browed Treecreeper Climacteris affinis is the smallest of the Australo - papuan Treecreepers and sole family member adapted to arid environments
  • The Sichuan treecreeper Certhia tianquanensis is a rare species of bird in the treecreeper family, Certhiidae. It was described as new to science initially
  • Brown - throated treecreeper can refer to two species of Certhia: Sikkim treecreeper Certhia discolor Hume s treecreeper Certhia manipurensis