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 Treecreeper - Fact File
Certhia familiaris
Fairly common resident.
Woods, parks, large gardens with mature trees.

Brownish upperparts, pale below, with longish slightly curved bill. Climbs up tree, often in a spiral motion.

12.25cm (5")


At one time treecreepers appeared regularly in our garden, often in company with mixed parties of roving tits and goldcrests. But no more. They have disappeared from our view, as have bullfinches and tree sparrows, nuthatches and marsh tits.

An old apple tree was the mouse-like creeper's favoured haunt. Its progress up the gnarled trunk in a series of jerks, spasmodic rather than rapid. Now and then it would made a sideways hop attracted by a promising crevice before pushing its scimitar-shaped bill into the crack and delicately removing its quarry with the needle point. Reaching a branch it would travel outwards beneath it — quite as happy upside down as when ascending.

The winter roosting habits of treecreepers have been well studied. Most favoured sites are contained in the soft fibrous bark of coast redwoods and wellingtonias. These trees are doubtless favoured due to the ease of excavation and the insulating quality of the bark. The creeper handles any enlargement in the morning and evening, pecking away chips and scraping with feet.

Most roost hollows are found about eight feet from the ground and below the lowest branches. They may be on all sides of the trunk or mainly on the sheltered side to which the bird would anyway tend to move in wind or rain.

Changes of tree are probably also due to weather conditions. All trees may be abandoned on very stormy nights. A given creeper does not always roost in the same hole and will, according to the literature, occupy a roosting chamber used previously by another bird. Some trees may contain 10 or 11 holes; others, apparently just as suitable, none.

The only occasion I have observed roosting treecreepers was in Keswick Park many years ago. Up to nine birds then roosted regularly in cavities in the soft bark of two giant wellingtonias there. This site was first recorded in 1926. With the aid of a torch I could make out the roosting birds; each nestled in a hollow, body pressed down with head tucked well into scapulars.

By Michael J. Seago

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Illustrations by Dave Nurney from - The Pocket Guide to the Birds Of Britain and North-West Europe By Chris Kightley and Steve Madge
© Pica Press and reproduced with kind permission.