Saturday, 2 February 2013

Brown Creeper


order : Passeriformes      Genus & Species : Certhiidae     Family : Certhia familiaris

At first glance, the brown creeper looks more like a mouse than a bird as it scurries up tree trunks, stopping every now and again to extract prey from crevices in the bark. Using its strong claws as climbing hooks, the brown creeper walks up tree trunks to extract prey from the bark with its fine, tweezerlike bill. They found across most of Europe and Asia to eastern China and Japan; separate populations occur in the Caucasus Mountains and Himalayas; also across most of North America. 

Habitat : Although the brown creeper feeds in a highly specialized way, it lives in a wide range of wooded habitats, from dense forests to small woods in farmland, hedgerows, parks and wooded gardens, even in cities. It stays close to tree trunks and large branches, but is sometimes seen on small treetop twigs and on crumbling walls. In central Europe, where the short-toed treecreeper occurs, the brown creeper is largely confined to coniferous woods and mountainous areas, so as to avoid competition for food and nest sites with its relative, which prefers deciduous woodland in the lowlands. 
Food & Feeding : The brown creeper shares its woodland habitats with other insectivorous (insect-eating) birds, including warblers, kinglets, nuthatches and flycatchers, but its specialized bill can probe into places they can’t reach. Most of its prey is easily pulled out and swallowed whole, but the bird sometimes struggles to pry grubs from their tight-fitting holes. The brown creeper may look like a tiny woodpecker, but it cannot peck or drill with its delicate, needlelike bill. The brown creeper’s diet consists mainly of spiders, woodlice, weevils and other small beetles, earwigs and moths. It devours adult insects and spiders, as well as their eggs and larvae, especially fat grubs and caterpillars. In winter, the brown creeper may supplement this diet with seeds, especially from pine and spruce trees. 
Behavior : The camouflage on the brown creeper’s upperparts makes it easy to escape the attention of humans, and is very hard for predators to spot. If pursued, it deploys evasive tactics to outwit its enemies: it runs to the other side of the tree trunk, where it can suddenly change direction, or makes quick “side-steps” across the trunk. However, its flight is weak and butterflylike. Except during the breeding season, the brown creeper leads a rather solitary life, staying close to its nesting territory. In winter, it may join a mixed flock of other small woodland birds in the search for food. 
Breeding : In spring, the male brown creeper regularly performs a high-pitched song from high in a tree to defend his nesting territory from rivals and to attract females. When a potential mate finally arrives, he chases her around tree trunks and through the air, shivering his wings to show off their bold coloring. As part of his courtship, he feeds her tasty morsels, delicately placing the food straight into her bill. The pair builds a cosy nest behind loose bark or ivy, at the bottom of a hole in a tree, or in a cavity , such as that made by a lightning strike. The female usually lays 5 or 6 eggs. She incubates them alone for two weeks or so, but the male then helps her to feed the chicks for up to 16 days. 

Bill : The slender, downcurved bill can slip into tiny crevices in bark to pull out prey. 
Plumage : The brown creeper’s upperparts are intricately mottled and streaked with brown, cream and black, to camouflage it against bark. Its underparts and “eyebrow,” or supercilium, are silvery white. 
Feet : The toes are long and tipped with sharp, curved claws to give a good grip on bark.The large rear claw helps anchor the bird when climbing. 
Tail : The stiff tail feathers splay outward at the tips and act with the legs to form a tripod, bracing the bird against the tree trunk. 

Weight : 0.28–0.42 oz.
Length : 5"
Wingspan : 7-8.5"
Sexual Maturity : 1 year
Breeding Season : April–August 

An old name for the brown creeper is the tree mouse.