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Posts Tagged ‘brown creeper near little buffalo river parthenon’

I saw this little (I mean really little) guy at the base of an oak tree flicking through the leaves looking for insects:

It is a Brown Creeper.

Brown Creepers are tiny woodland birds with an affinity for the biggest trees they can find. Look for these little, long-tailed scraps of brown and white spiraling up stout trunks and main branches, sometimes passing downward-facing nuthatches along the way. They probe into crevices and pick at loose bark with their slender, down-curved bills, and build their hammock-shaped nests behind peeling flakes of bark. Their piercing calls can make it much easier to find this hard-to-see but common species.

Cool Facts

  • The naturalist W.M. Tyler, writing in 1948, captured this species’ energy and fragility in a memorable description, “The Brown Creeper, as he hitches along the bole of a tree, looks like a fragment of detached bark that is defying the law of gravitation by moving upward over the trunk, and as he flies off to another tree he resembles a little dry leaf blown about by the wind.”
  • The Brown Creeper builds a hammock-like nest behind a loosened flap of bark on a dead or dying tree. It wasn’t until 1879 that naturalists discovered this unique nesting strategy.
  • In Arizona, Brown Creeper nests often have two openings, one which serves as an entrance and the other as an exit. Entrances face downward and exits upward.
  • Sometimes creepers build nests in unusual places, such as behind window shutters, in or under roofs, inside fenceposts, or inside concrete blocks. One brought up a family in a specially constructed box made of pieces of Douglas-fir bark.
  • Wildlife managers sometimes use the Brown Creeper as an indicator species to help gauge the effects of logging on wildlife habitat.
  • Brown Creepers burn an estimated 4–10 calories (technically, kilocalories) per day, a tiny fraction of a human’s daily intake of about 2,000 kilocalories. By eating a single spider, a creeper gains enough energy to climb nearly 200 feet vertically.
  • The oldest Brown Creeper on record was at least 4 years, 5 months old and lived in Illinois.

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