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Brown Creeper

Certhia americana

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At a mere 5.5 inches in length, it may be difficult for even the most dedicated bird watcher to spot one of these tiny forest dwellers. As their name suggests, the bird creeps along the trunks of trees, hunting insects hiding in the grooves and under the bark. Their slender bodies are covered in a variegated pattern of brown and buff which lets them blend easily into the bark of evergreen and deciduous trees. The underparts of the body are white and there’s a distinctive buff-colored stripe over each eye. The Creeper has a long tail and a thin, curved bill designed for extracting insects. Preferred prey include gnats, beetles, ants, weevils, moths and caddisflies.

Mated pairs of Brown Creepers will generally nest on the trunks of trees, sometimes choosing dead timber where they can shelter themselves under the loose bark. Nests can be positioned as high as 40 feet off the ground and are constructed of bark and leaves. A clutch may contain up to six eggs, which hatch within two weeks. Young creepers are generally self-sufficient after twenty days in the nest.

These birds produce a high warbling call which is often confused with the song of the Golden-Crowned Kinglet.

Range and Habitat

Brown Creepers can be found in evergreen and mixed evergreen-deciduous forests throughout the western half of North America. They prefer mature forests with large trees. Most Brown Creepers do not migrate or if they do, it is only for short distances. They can be found year-round on the Oregon Coast and adjacent areas.

Conservation Status

Common.

Photo credit: US Fish and Wildlife Service.