Perfectly adapted to its environment this native bird is extremely territorial and may not venture more than a few miles from its birthplace. Some studies have noted individual birds who have limited themselves to a 500 metre radius only.
These tiny attractive birds spend most of their lives on trees and are superbly camouflaged to blend in with their surroundings. Their main colouring is mottled browns and black on their back and head and with mainly white underparts. The have a long pale brown notched tail and a white stripe over each eye. The rounded wings are predominantly black with a pale almost white wing bar. In relation to this small bird’s overall size they have a long, thin, downward curving, black beak and large slender brown and pink feet with long curved toes, which they use in gripping on to trees. When climbing up the bark of vertical tree trunks they use their stiff tail to assist them with balance and as an extra support against the tree. Male and female adults are similar and juveniles duller in colour with less obvious colour markings.
Close up of a Treecreeper
Allegedly originating in the West Country, an alternative name for the treecreeper is the tree mouse following its resemblance to a mouse as it scurries up trees.
The treecreepers call is a long quiet and high pitched trill of ‘srreee’ which lowers in pitch at the end of each tweet.
Andrew Harrop, XC618253. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/618253.
The treecreepers home is also its kitchen! Its long thin pointed bill is used to wheedle out larvae, insects and spiders living in the tree bark and it is a very effective tool. In the winter they will also feed on seeds.
Treecreepers are UK residents and can be found across the kingdom apart from the northern isles of Scotland. They are solitary birds in the main who prefer deciduous woodland but are also found in conifer forests and occasionally wooded gardens. During the autumn and winter months they are often seen on the periphery of tit flocks.
Their camouflage can make these active little birds difficult to spot although once seen they are easy to identify. In size they resemble a small tit or wren but their slender bills coupled with their particularly long curved toes are a give away. Unlike the Nuthatch which is also a tree feeder, the treecreeper is not able to turn around on a tree and venture back down again head first. It is therefore forced to fly to the next tree or the ground. It is able to walk backwards down the tree but is inhibited in doing so by its tail. They generally start their foraging at the base of a tree and circle around the trunk walking upwards as they do so. Once at the top of the tree or when they want to move on to the next they simply take to the wing.
Treecreepers build their nests under protruding bark or behind ivy on the trunk of a tree. One clutch is laid annually between April to June and normally consists of 5 or 6 white coloured eggs which are speckled reddish-brown.
The lifespan of a treecreeper is two to three years.