Certhia is the genus of birds containing the typical treecreepers, which together with the African and Indian spotted creepers make up the family Certhiidae.

The typical treecreepers occur in many wooded parts of the North Temperate Zone. They do not normally migrate other than for local movements, such as altitudinal migrations in the Himalayan species.[1]

The treecreepers are small woodland birds, very similar in appearance (so they can present serious identification problems where two species occur together). They are brown with streaks above and white below. They have thin pointed down-curved bills, which they use to extricate insects from bark. They have stiff, pointed tail feathers, like woodpeckers and woodcreepers, which they use to support themselves on vertical trees. All the tail feathers but the two central ones are molted in quick succession; the two central ones are not molted till the others grow back, so the bird can always prop itself with its tail.[1][2]

They build cup nests on loose twig platforms wedged behind patches of bark on tree trunks. (They will also use special nest boxes clamped to tree trunks and made with two openings; the birds use one as an entrance and one as an exit.) They lay 3 to 9 eggs (usually 5 or 6), which are white with reddish-brown speckles and dots. The female incubates for 14 or 15 days. The young fledge 15 or 16 days later; the male may care for them while the female incubates and feeds a second brood. Rarely a male may mate with a second female while the first is incubating, and there are even records of two females incubating their clutches side by side in a nest.[2][1]

At least some species roost in small oblong cavities that they dig out behind loose bark. They may roost individually or in groups (probably families) that in extreme cold have been known to exceed 12 birds.[1]

Brown creeper (Certhia americana)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Certhiidae
Genus: Certhia
Linnaeus, 1758

see text

Species in taxonomic order

Following recent studies of cytochrome b mtDNA sequence and song structure,[3][4] the following nine species are recognized:[5]

They form two evolutionary lineages: the former four species represent a Holarctic radiation, whereas the remaining five are distributed in the area south and east of the Himalaya. Hodgson's treecreeper, recently realized to be a distinct species, is an offshoot of the common treecreeper's ancestor which has speciated south of the Himalaya. The former group has a more warbling song, always (except in C. familiaris from China) starting or ending with a shrill sreeh. The Himalayan group, in contrast, has a faster-paced trill without the sreeh sound.

Fossil record

Certhia immensa (Pliocene of Csarnota, Hungary)[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Mead, Christopher J. (2003). "Holarctic Treecreepers". In Perrins, Christopher (ed.). The Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Firefly Books. pp. 538–540. ISBN 1-55297-777-3.
  2. ^ a b Perrins, C. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. p. 204. ISBN 1-85391-186-0.
  3. ^ Tietze, Dieter Thomas; Martens, Jochen & Sun, Yue-Hua (2006): Molecular phylogeny of treecreepers (Certhia) detects hidden diversity. Ibis 148(3): 477-488 doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2006.00547.x (HTML abstract)
  4. ^ Tietze, Dieter Thomas; Martens, Jochen; Sun, Yue-Hua; Paeckert, Martin (2008). "Evolutionary history of treecreeper vocalisations(Aves: Certhia)". Organisms, Diversity & Evolution. 8: 305–324. doi:10.1016/j.ode.2008.05.001.
  5. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2017). "Nuthatches, Wallcreeper, treecreepers, mockingbirds, starlings & oxpeckers". World Bird List Version 7.3. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  6. ^ Kessler, E. 2013. Neogene songbirds (Aves, Passeriformes) from Hungary. – Hantkeniana, Budapest, 2013, 8: 37-149.

External links

Amazonian barred woodcreeper

The Amazonian barred woodcreeper (Dendrocolaptes certhia) is a species of bird in the Dendrocolaptinae subfamily, the woodcreepers. The northern barred woodcreeper (D. sanctithomae) was formerly included in this species. The Amazonian barred woodcreeper still includes the subspecies concolor, which sometimes is considered a separate species, the concolor woodcreeper.

It is found in the entire Amazon Basin of Brazil and the Guianas in the northeast, (Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana). The countries surrounding the basin at the Andes are southern Colombia and Venezuela, also Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. A disjunct population exists 1800 km east of the Amazon Basin in eastern coastal Brazil in the states of Paraíba, Pernambuco, Alagoas, and Sergipe in a 600 km coastal strip. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.

Bar-tailed treecreeper

The bar-tailed treecreeper (Certhia himalayana), or the Himalayan treecreeper is a species of bird in the family Certhiidae. It is found primarily in the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent, particularly in the Himalayas, as well as in adjoining regions. It is found in Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Burma, Nepal, Tibet, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Its natural habitats are boreal forests and temperate forests.

Brahmaea certhia

Brahmaea certhia, the Sino-Korean owl moth, is a moth from the family Brahmaeidae, the Brahmin moths. It is found in the Korean Peninsula and China.

The wingspan is 100 mm (3.9 in) to 120 mm (4.7 in).

The larvae feed on privet, Fraxinus mandshurica and Syringa amurensis.

Brown creeper

For the similarly named Australian bird see Brown treecreeper.

For the similarly named New Zealand bird see Brown creeper (New Zealand).

The brown creeper (Certhia americana), also known as the American treecreeper, is a small songbird, the only North American member of the treecreeper family Certhiidae.

Eurasian treecreeper

The Eurasian treecreeper or common treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) is a small passerine bird also known in the British Isles, where it is the only living member of its genus, simply as treecreeper. It is similar to other treecreepers, and has a curved bill, patterned brown upperparts, whitish underparts, and long stiff tail feathers which help it creep up tree trunks. It can be most easily distinguished from the similar short-toed treecreeper, which shares much of its European range, by its different song.

The Eurasian treecreeper has nine or more subspecies which breed in different parts of its range in temperate Eurasia. This species is found in woodlands of all kinds, but where it overlaps with the short-toed treecreeper in western Europe it is more likely to be found in coniferous forests or at higher altitudes. It nests in tree crevices or behind bark flakes, and favours introduced giant sequoia as nest sites where they are available. The female typically lays five or six pink-speckled white eggs in the lined nest, but eggs and chicks are vulnerable to attack by woodpeckers and mammals, including squirrels.

The Eurasian treecreeper is insectivorous and climbs up tree trunks like a mouse, to search for insects which it picks from crevices in the bark with its fine curved bill. It then flies to the base of another tree with a distinctive erratic flight. This bird is solitary in winter, but may form communal roosts in cold weather.

Hodgson's treecreeper

Hodgson's treecreeper (Certhia hodgsoni), is a small passerine bird from the southern rim of the Himalayas. Its specific distinctness from the common treecreeper (C. familiaris) was recently validated.

Hume's treecreeper

The Hume's treecreeper, (Certhia manipurensis) was earlier included within the brown-throated treecreeper complex and identified as a separate species on the basis of their distinctive calls. This species in the treecreeper family is found in Assam, Myanmar, Shan Mountains, Laos and the Dalat Plateau.

This form has a rich cinnamon throat and breast with support for their status coming from nd molecular evidence and calls.The name commemorates the British naturalist Allan Octavian Hume who worked in India.

New Holland honeyeater

The New Holland honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) is a honeyeater species found throughout southern Australia. It was among the first birds to be scientifically described in Australia, and was initially named Certhia novaehollandiae.

Northern barred woodcreeper

The northern barred woodcreeper (Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae) is a species of bird in the Dendrocolaptinae subfamily. It was formerly included as a subspecies of the Amazonian barred woodcreeper (D. certhia).

It is found from southern Mexico through Central America to Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador.

Purple-rumped sunbird

The purple-rumped sunbird (Leptocoma zeylonica) is a sunbird endemic to the Indian Subcontinent. Like other sunbirds, they are small in size, feeding mainly on nectar but sometimes take insects, particularly when feeding young. They can hover for short durations but usually perch to suck nectar from flowers. They build a hanging pouch nest made up of cobwebs, lichens and plant material. Males are brightly coloured but females are olive above and yellow to buff below. Males are easily distinguished from the purple sunbird by the light coloured underside while females can be told apart by their whitish throats.

Rusty-flanked treecreeper

The rusty-flanked treecreeper (Certhia nipalensis) or the Nepal treecreeper is a species of bird in the family Certhiidae.

It is found in northern India, Nepal, Bhutan and western Yunnan.

Its natural habitats are boreal forests and temperate forests.

Réunion olive white-eye

The Réunion olive white-eye (Zosterops olivaceus) is a species of bird in the family Zosteropidae. It is found on Réunion. Its natural habitats are boreal forests and subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland.

In 1760 the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson included a description of the Reunion olive white-eye in his Ornithologie based on a specimen that had been brought to Paris from Île Bourbon (now Réunion), but which Brisson mistakenly believed had been collected in Madagascar. He used the French name Le grimpereau olive de Madagascar and the Latin Certhia Madagascariensis Olivaceus. Although Brisson coined Latin names, these do not conform to the binomial system and are not recognised by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. When in 1766 the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus updated his Systema Naturae for the twelfth edition, he added 240 species that had been previously described by Brisson. One of these was the Reunion olive white-eye. Linnaeus included a brief description, coined the binomial name Certhia olivacea and cited Brisson's work. He followed Brisson and gave the type location as Madagascar instead of Réunion. This species is now placed in the genus Zosterops that was introduced by the naturalists Nicholas Vigors and Thomas Horsfield in 1827. There are no recognised subspecies.

Scarlet-backed flowerpecker

The scarlet-backed flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) is a species of passerine bird in the flowerpecker family Dicaeidae. Sexually dimorphic, the male has navy blue upperparts with a bright red streak down its back from its crown to its tail coverts, while the female and juvenile are predominantly olive green. It is found in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and occasionally gardens in a number of countries throughout South and East Asia.

Short-toed treecreeper

The short-toed treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla) is a small passerine bird found in woodlands through much of the warmer regions of Europe and into north Africa. It has a generally more southerly distribution than the other European treecreeper species, the common treecreeper, with which it is easily confused where they both occur. The short-toed treecreeper tends to prefer deciduous trees and lower altitudes than its relative in these overlap areas. Although mainly sedentary, vagrants have occurred outside the breeding range.

The short-toed treecreeper is one of a group of four very similar Holarctic treecreepers, including the closely related North American brown creepers, and has five subspecies differing in appearance and song. Like other treecreepers, the short-toed is inconspicuously plumaged brown above and whitish below, and has a curved bill and stiff tail feathers. It is a resident in woodlands throughout its range, and nests in tree crevices or behind bark flakes, laying about six eggs. This common, unwary, but inconspicuous species feeds mainly on insects which are picked from the tree trunk as the treecreeper ascends with short hops.

Sichuan treecreeper

The Sichuan treecreeper (Certhia tianquanensis) is a rare species of bird in the treecreeper family, Certhiidae.

It was described as new to science (initially as a subspecies of the common treecreeper C. familiaris) in 1995 from 14 specimens taken at four sites in the mountains of western Sichuan, China. In 2002, it was realized that these birds constituted a distinct species, and subsequent research suggests it is closest to the Nepal treecreeper (C. nipalensis).

This species is believed to be a relict species breeding in open old-growth stands of the conifer Faber's fir (Abies fabri) at high altitude (2,500-2,830 m), although it is thought to undertake localised altitudinal migrations in the winter (occurring down to at least 1,600 m).

It is known from five sites: Labahe Natural Reserve (Tianquin County), Dayi County, Shuanghe town (Ebian County), Wawu Shan (Hongya County), and Wujipung in Wolong Biosphere Reserve. Within this small area, the species is thought to be patchily distributed because it seems to be confined to old stands of the Faber's fir.

The species forages for invertebrates in the upper storey of large trees by creeping along branches and trunks.

Intensive logging of primary coniferous forests in the last century, even at high altitudes in the mountains of western China, has seriously reduced the potential range of this species. The Wawu Shan table mountain has steep slopes which are inaccessible to lumberjacks in the absence of extensive road construction, but it is not yet formally protected, and there are plans to open up the regions for tourism by building a cable railway.

The population was estimated at less than 1000 adult individuals, occurring over a range of 19,690 km2. Formerly classified as vulnerable species by the IUCN, new research has shown it to be not as rare as it was believed. Consequently, it is downlisted to near threatened status in 2008.

Sikkim treecreeper

The Sikkim treecreeper (Certhia discolor) is a species of bird in the treecreeper family.

It is found in Bhutan, Nepal and Northeast India.

Its natural habitats are temperate forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.

The form C. d. manipurensis of southern Manipur and southwestern Burma has a rich cinnamon throat and breast, and molecular evidence and is usually now treated as a separate species, the Hume's treecreeper, C. manipurensis Hume, 1850.

Tawny-crowned honeyeater

The tawny-crowned honeyeater (Gliciphila melanops) is a passerine bird native to southern Australia.

The tawny-crowned honeyeater was originally described by ornithologist John Latham in 1801 as Certhia melanops. Its specific epithet is derived from the Ancient Greek terms melano- "black" and ōps "face".It was previously classified in the genus Phylidonyris but a recent molecular study has shown it to be more distantly related to members of that genus. It was placed in the genus Gliciphila by Gregory Mathews in 1912, and this name was used in its current binomial name. DNA analysis has shown honeyeaters to be related to the Pardalotidae (pardalotes), Acanthizidae (Australian warblers, scrubwrens, thornbills, etc.), and Maluridae (Australian fairy-wrens) in a large Meliphagoidea superfamily.The tawny-crowned honeyeater is found from the North Coast of New South Wales through to the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, as well as Victoria and Tasmania. It also occurs in south west Western Australia from Israelite Bay westwards. Its natural habitat is low shrubland and heath.The breeding season may take place from June to December. The bulky cup-shaped nest is made of bark, grass, and even seaweed and lined with softer material such as fur or wool. It is hidden among shrubby vegetation. The clutch size is usually two or three, and occasionally four. Measuring 21 x 14 mm, the oval eggs are beige, with buff or pink-tinged splotches.


The treecreepers are a family, Certhiidae, of small passerine birds, widespread in wooded regions of the Northern Hemisphere and sub-Saharan Africa. The family contains ten species in two genera, Certhia and Salpornis. Their plumage is dull-coloured, and as their name implies, they climb over the surface of trees in search of food.


The wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria) is a small passerine bird found throughout the high mountains of Eurasia from southern Europe to central China. It is the only extant member of both the genus Tichodroma and the family Tichodromidae.


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.