- Common Name:
- Brown Creeper
- Scientific Name:
- Certhia americana
- Length: 5.3 inches
- IUCN Red List Status:
- Least concern
- Current Population Trend:
The brown creeper is quite vocal, but its high-pitched vocalizations are easily missed. It is generally solitary, but it sometimes migrates and winters with flocks of titmice, nuthatches, and kinglets. Polytypic (15 ssp.; 9 north of United States-Mexico border ). Length 5.3".
Distinctive shape and foraging behavior. Male and female: identical plumage; male larger. Cryptic upperparts streaked brown, buff, and black; underparts pale with warm wash on flanks; rump buff, tawny, or rufous. Flight: broad, pale wing stripe at base of flight feathers prominent in flight.
Subspecies north of the United States-Mexico border divide into 3 groups: western birds (alascensis, occidentalis, stewarti, phillipsi, zelotes, montana) are small, dark, and long billed; eastern birds (americana, nigrescens) are larger, generally paler, and shorter billed; the Mexican albescens, darker with white spotting that contrasts more, extends into southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico. Rufous, brown, and gray morphs in several populations complicate identification.
None; vaguely similar to some wrens, but shape and behavior very different.
Very high-pitched. Call: a soft, sibilant seee, usually buzzier and doubled in western birds, tseeesee. Flight call: a short, weak tsf; shorter and softer than golden-crowned kinglet and chickadees. Song: variable, but consists of several notes, seee seeedsee sideeu. Eastern songs more complex, quavering, and usually end on a high note; western songs more rhythmic and often end on a low note.
Status and Distribution
Fairly common; uncommon or rare breeder in southeast portion of range. Breeding: coniferous, mixed, or swampy forests. Highest densities found in old-growth forest. Wider habitat variety during migration and winter. Migration: resident birds complicate detection of migrants in some areas. Peak late March–mid-April and October–November in Midwest/Northeast. Winter: much of North America.
Populations thought to have declined throughout much of North America with the felling of old-growth forests. Breeding populations listed as endangered in Kentucky and as of special concern in some midwestern and eastern states.