Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Creeper, Creeper, Creeper!

Brown Creeper.
No, not the green four-legged kind. I'm talking about the brown two-legged bird kind! The Brown Creeper can be extremely hard to spot. This bird is closely related to Nuthatches, but its stiff tail and long, thin beak help separate this bird from look-alikes. It's call is very similar to the Golden-crowned Kinglet, but Kinglets almost always give three distinct notes: "Seet, seet, seet!" whereas the Brown Creeper gives one.
Creepers, like most birds, depend on trees greatly (I'm NOT an environmentalist). They fInd their food in tree's bark, they nest behind peeling bark, and they even look like bark!
Brown Creeper: Brown morph
It can be brown or red, depending on the subspecies. The brown morph usually has a white "eyebrow". The red morph has none. The brown morph also has spots on its back, and, yet again, the red morph has none. But they both acquire off-white bellies and necks, as shown in these two photos.
The full-grown bird is 5 1/2" long.
Brown Creepers usually live in mature evergreen-deciduous woodlands, but once they find a suet feeder, they will visit regularly. In the West, you can find them as high as 11,000 feet!
Brown Creeper: Red morph
In many bird field guides, I found, the guide may say something like, "Remember: This bird only climbs upward." I find this to be a big mistake. Although they never face downward, they will climb downward if necessary. This unique behavior makes it easy to separate these birds from nuthatches.
The Brown Creeper really is a fascinating bird, so get to a window or get out in the field and get birdwatching! Happy birding!

-Mr. Bird