Australasian treecreeper

There are 7 species of Australasian treecreeper in the passerine bird family Climacteridae. They are medium-small, mostly brown birds with patterning on their underparts, and all are endemic to Australia-New Guinea. They resemble, but are not closely related to, the Holarctic treecreepers. The family is one of several families identified by DNA–DNA hybridisation studies to be part of the Australo-Papuan songbird radiation. There is some molecular support for suggesting that their closest relatives are the large lyrebirds.

As their name implies, treecreepers forage for insects and other small creatures living on and under the bark of trees, mostly eucalypts, though several species also hunt on the ground, through leaf-litter, and on fallen timber. Unlike the Holarctic treecreepers they do not use their tail for support when climbing tree trunks, only their feet.

Australasian treecreepers nest in holes in trees. The species in the family hold breeding territories, although the extent to which they are defended and last varies. Some species, such as the red-browed treecreeper and the brown treecreeper are cooperative breeders, others, like the white-throated treecreeper are not. The cooperative breeders form groups or a single breeding pair as well as up to three helpers, which are usually the young males of previous pairings. Helpers assist with the construction of the nest, feeding of the incubating female and feeding and defending the young.

Australasian treecreepers
Brown Treecreeper
Brown treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Superfamily: Menuroidea
Family: Climacteridae
de Sélys Longchamps, 1839


The Australasian treecreepers are small oscine songbirds, measuring 14 to 19 cm (5.5–7.5 in) in length and weighing 17–44 g (0.60–1.55 oz). They have relatively long tails, short legs with strong feet, stout bodies and longish and slightly down-curved bills. The plumage of this family is dull, trending towards brown, reddish-brown or greyish brown above and paler below. There is usually some sexual dimorphism in plumage, with females having some reddish colour in the head or breast that is absent in the males. Other differences between the sexes are common, and can arise very early in the life of these birds, being present even in late-stage nestlings. They are poor fliers, with their flight described as undulating and gliding.[1]

Distribution and habitat

All the Australian treecreepers are endemic to Australia except for one species restricted to New Guinea. They are found across much of Australia except for the large island of Tasmania, possibly because they are poor fliers and unable to disperse across water barriers, or possibly because of a lack of bark-dwelling invertebrates to feed on.[1]

Across their global distribution they occupy a wide range of habitats. The Papuan treecreeper is found in mid-montane to montane forested habitats on New Guinea, from 1,250–3,000 m (4,100–9,840 ft).[2] The white-browed treecreeper inhabits acacia and Casuarina woodlands in deserts in southern Australia. Other species inhabit subtropical rainforest, eucalypt woodlands and southern beech forests. The brown treecreeper is semi-terrestrial and can live in more open woodland habitats,[1] but is still sensitive to the loss of its habitat.[3] The Australasian treecreepers are essentially non-migratory, although there are distinct differences in the dispersal of young birds after fledging, especially between the two genera.[1]


Diet and feeding

The Australasian treecreepers principally forage for arthropods found on the bark of trees, but they will also take prey from the ground and will eat tree sap and nectar from flowers. They commonly obtain insect prey by gleaning from surface of bark, but will also probe into holes and pull at loose strips of bark and flick underneath it with their quadrifid tongue.[1]


Image Genus Living Species
Cormobates leucophaea -Victoria, Australia-8 Cormobates Mathews, 1922
White-browed Treecreeper (7141277955) Climacteris Temminck, 1820


  1. ^ a b c d e Noske, R. & Bonan, A. (2017). Australasian Treecreepers (Climacteridae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 4 April 2017).
  2. ^ Sam, Katerina; Koane, Bonny (2013). "New avian records along the elevational gradient of Mt. Wilhelm, Papua New Guinea" (PDF). Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 134 (2): 116–133.
  3. ^ Walters, Jeffrey R; Ford, Hugh A; Cooper, Caren B (August 1999). "The ecological basis of sensitivity of brown treecreepers to habitat fragmentation: a preliminary assessment". Biological Conservation. 90 (1): 13–20. doi:10.1016/S0006-3207(99)00016-6.
  • Del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A. & Christie D. (editors). (2007). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-84-96553-42-2
  • Noske, N.A. (1991). "A Demographic Comparison of Cooperatively Breeding and Noncooperative Treecreepers (Climacteridae)". Emu 91 (2) 73 - 86
  • Sibley, C.G.; Schodde, R. & J.E. Ahlquist (1984) "The relationship of the Australo-Papuan Treecreepers Climacteridae as indicated by DNA-DNA hybridization". Emu 84 (4): 236 - 241
  • Christidis, L.; Norman, J.; Scott, I. & M Westerman (1996) "Molecular Perspectives on the Phylogenetic Affinities of Lyrebirds (Menuridae) and Treecreepers (Climacteridae)". Australian Journal of Zoology 44 (3) 215 - 222

External links

Brown treecreeper

The brown treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus) is the largest Australasian treecreeper. The bird, endemic to eastern Australia, has a broad distribution, occupying areas from Cape York, Queensland, throughout New South Wales and Victoria to Port Augusta and the Flinders Ranges, South Australia. Prevalent nowadays between 16˚S and 38˚S, the population has contracted from the edges of its pre-European range, declining in Adelaide and Cape York. Found in a diverse range of habitats varying from coastal forests to mallee shrub-lands, the brown treecreeper often occupies eucalypt-dominated woodland habitats up to 1,000 metres (3,300 ft), avoiding areas with a dense shrubby understorey.


Oceania (UK: , US: (listen), ) is a geographic region which includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Spanning the eastern and western hemispheres, Oceania has a land area of 8,525,989 square kilometres (3,291,903 sq mi) and has a population of 40 million. Situated in the southeast of the Asia-Pacific region, Oceania, when compared to continental regions, is the smallest in land area and the second smallest in population after Antarctica.

Definitions of Oceania vary; however, the islands at the geographic extremes of Oceania are generally considered to be the Bonin Islands, a politically integral part of Japan; Hawaii, a state of the United States; Clipperton Island, a possession of France; the Juan Fernández Islands, belonging to Chile; and Macquarie Island, belonging to Australia. (The United Nations has its own geopolitical definition of Oceania, but this consists of discrete political entities, and so excludes the Bonin Islands, Hawaii, Clipperton Island, and the Juan Fernández Islands, along with Easter Island.) Oceania has a diverse mix of economies from the highly developed and globally competitive financial markets of Australia and New Zealand, which rank high in quality of life and human development index, to the much less developed economies that belong to countries such as Kiribati and Tuvalu, while also including medium-sized economies of Pacific islands such as Palau, Fiji and Tonga. The largest and most populous country in Oceania is Australia, with Sydney being the largest city of both Oceania and Australia. In the 1950s Indonesia and Philippines were removed from Oceania and added to Asia; this resulted in Oceania as a "great division" of the world being replaced by the concept of the continent of Australia.. In some countries (such as Brazil) however, Oceania is still regarded as a continent (Portuguese: continente) in the sense of "one of the parts of the world", and the concept of Australia as a continent does not exist.The first settlers of Australia, New Guinea, and the large islands just to the east arrived more than 60,000 years ago. Oceania was first explored by Europeans from the 16th century onward. Portuguese navigators, between 1512 and 1526, reached the Tanimbar Islands, some of the Caroline Islands and west Papua New Guinea. On his first voyage in the 18th century, James Cook, who later arrived at the highly developed Hawaiian Islands, went to Tahiti and followed the east coast of Australia for the first time. The Pacific front saw major action during the Second World War, mainly between Allied powers the United States and Australia, and Axis power Japan.

The arrival of European settlers in subsequent centuries resulted in a significant alteration in the social and political landscape of Oceania. In more contemporary times there has been increasing discussion on national flags and a desire by some Oceanians to display their distinguishable and

individualistic identity. The rock art of Australian Aborigines is the longest continuously practiced artistic tradition in the world. Puncak Jaya in Papua is often considered the highest peak in Oceania. Most Oceanian countries have a parliamentary representative democratic multi-party system, with tourism being a large source of income for the Pacific Islands nations.


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