Vancouver Avian Research Centre

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Species: Brown Creeper Certhia americana


An inconspicuous slender brown bird that clings to and also climbs in a vertical spiral fashion up tree trunks.


General: A sparrow sized bird of length 5.3” (13.5 cm) and a weight of 03.0 oz. (0.53 gr.) with a buff streaked brown back and short rounded wings. A white-eye stripe is noticeably and the bill is long slender and decurved.

Adult Male: The Creepers buff streaked brown back and wing coverts edged with buff and tipped white, help to break up the bird’s outline and avoid predation when it is clinging flat against a tree, by means of its short legs and large curved claws. The under parts of the body are white.

Adult Female: Is similar but the decurved bill is shorter.

Juvenile: Similar to adults but under parts have a light spotting and duller upper parts.

Similar Species: Nuthatch, Black-and-white Warbler.

Behavior: Solitary or in pairs, except in winter when it will often join flocks of foraging mixed species. The Brown Creeper eats various insect, larvae, seed and nuts. The tail feathers, 12 stiff and pointed rectricies prop the bird in its upright position as it probes the bark on a tree for invertebrates i.e. insects , spiders and pseudoscorpions. The upward spiral path that the Brown Creeper takes while probing for food is characteristic enough to establish its identity. They rarely eat on the ground, but may eat seeds in the winter.
The song and call notes are high pitched and difficult for most people to hear. Also the call notes are often confused with those of the Golden crowned Kinglet. The song call is a soft see-see-titi-see and the call notes a soft seee.

Habitat: Brown Creepers are tree dwellers preferring closed canopy, moist, mature, mixed forests they generally avoid the rain forests of the outer coastal regions. They do however inhabit the drier interior forest and scrubby areas where insects, insect larvae can be found along with some berries and fruit.


The nest is often an unusual half-cup shape behind a lose piece of bark that is still an integral part of the tree trunk, it may also be found in dead tree cavities, the heights vary from 5 ft. - 50 ft. the nest is built of twigs, moss, conifer needles and lined with shredded bark plus feathers. The female will do most of the work. Eggs 4 –8 per clutch, white, oval, sparsely flecked reddish brown and wreathed.
The A. U. O. considers the Brown Creeper to be the only new world member of the family Certhiidea, comprising of six species in the genus certhia and the spotted creeper. Others using DNA-DNA hybridization suggest that creepers may be part of a much larger family of maybe some 100 species that include wrens and gnatcatchers.

Conservation Status:

Brown Creepers are currently listed at a status of least concern (LC)
Note that deforestation and forest fragmentation will drastically affect this species. Also the loss of trees due to the invasion of exotic insects has taken its toll in the past.
Capture Rates

The Brown Creeper is a resident species favouring closed canopy forests like those on the outskirts of our banding station at Colony Farms. Subsequently, capture rates (2010-2012; standardized as birds captured per 100 net hours) reflect activity from July through September when after breeding, individuals increase movement by joining mixed foraging flocks.


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