The Creeper

December 7, 2012 | Greg Dodge

While sitting quietly by the bird feeders I noticed a small brownish bird fly down from the heights of one of the tall trees that surround the feeder area. The bird perched woodpecker-style near the base of another tree and immediately began creeping up the trunk in a spiral, winding its way up the tree as it climbed.

Creeping up the trunk of a tree near the bird feeders.

I see these birds every fall and winter here at the Museum, but getting a clear, sharp photo of one has been difficult, their method of feeding contributing to my past failures (the above photo underwent much manipulation). They fly from tree to tree searching the crevices and cracks in the bark for insects, typically working their way up one tree, then flying to the base of another once satisfied that they’ve sufficiently covered the previous tree. As they ascend, they often spiral around as they go. It can be very frustrating trying to follow one around a tree thunk.

These birds are not necessarily feeder birds. The vast majority of their food is insect related, whether adult insects, eggs, or larvae. Consistent with other insectivorous birds they may come to suet if you offer it to them. We have suet here at the Museum.

These small, tree creeping birds are northern in distribution preferring to nest in coniferous forests. Since our western North Carolina mountains contain habitats otherwise found far to our north in Canada, these birds may also be found nesting a bit closer to home.

What is this bird? Why, it’s a Brown Creeper, of course!

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