A little brown bird told me I should write this article to you today – and wouldn’t you know it’s all about him. Actually, the brown creeper is one of my favorite little brown birds. When I look out my window into the forest beyond I consider it a really good day when just by happenstance, I see one of these little fellows creeping up the side of a tree.
Brown creepers (Certhia americana) only come down from their summer Arctic homes to spend the winters with us in the Midwest. By spring they are flying north. Brown creepers probe their sharp little beaks behind bark jetties, into crevices and anywhere else they can find small spiders, insects, and other invertebrates. If they happen to find some tiny seeds behind that bark, they won’t pass up those morsels either,
Brown Creepers start their dinner search at the base of a tree and spiraling upward; so unlike nuthatches, which travel head first down the tree – these little guys go up the tree.
I have wanted to visit nature areas far north of us for many reasons, but one of these is to someday see a brown creeper’s nest. Picture this: The base of the small nest is a shelf made from parts of cocoons and spider egg cases and anchored to the bark. The cup of the nest is attached to the shelf and made of fine pieces of bark, fibers, leaves, mosses, and feathers.
Finally, brown creepers add a roof, as they fashion all of this behind a flap of loose bark on a tree. What ingenious architects! Inside one of these fine homes can be found one to eight small white eggs that are usually adorned with pink or darkish brown spots.
Probably one of my most favorite things about brown creepers is their feathered appearance. Sure, they are cute, weighing in at only 0.2 to 0.4 ounces and a little over four and a half inches long. But why I really like them is that their back is mottled browns decorated with white specks, lines and patches of white. They are very well camouflaged little buggers. To me, watching a brown creeper on a cold winter day has always resembled watching a piece of bark with splotches of bird poop erratically climbing up a tree!
Brown creepers are just one more reason to take up bird watching as an enjoyable pastime. You do not have to be the die-hard either, with a camera lens so long that you need a support to hold it up or a set of binoculars that you need to apply for a loan. You can actually just watch out your window and see what comes into your neighborhood. Drive to the nearest nature center and see what comes to their windows. Or, bored with your scenery, invite birds to your window by putting up a few feeders. (Sorry, brown creepers will not visit your feeders.) Maybe some other little birds will have to tell their stories next week.
Reach Lynn Youngblood at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net.