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brown creeper

crisp brown leaf, wind-blown
flake of bark, falling from tree
nope, wrong: brown creeper

The diminutive Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) is notorious for being unobtrusive.  Even the creeper’s sweet, clear, musical song can be frustratingly difficult to hear due to its high pitch.  Although creepers busily hunt for tiny insects and spider eggs hidden in the crevices of tree trunks and branches, they are difficult to locate, blending in harmoniously with the substrates on which they forage.

I remember my first up-close encounter with a creeper, as a young girl.  One hit our window, and for a short minute, I held the temporarily stunned bird in my cupped hand.  How could plumage, painted from such a monochromatic palette, be so achingly jewel-like and gorgeous? My contemplation was brief, as the bird hastened from my hand and disappeared. Everafter, whenever I discovered a creeper on a tree, nearly indistiguishable from ordinary bark, I wondered: Had I imagined the exquisite beauty?  But, no.  Nature imitating nature often brings us the most surprising and creative examples of her artistry, frequently in small packages like the delicate Brown Creeper.

Photo by Cindy Mead of Woodsong Nature Photography.

Filed in Birds, Natural history

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Eric D January 6, 2006, 11:02 am

    Very apropos! I recently took my first Brown Creeper photographs, and although my pictures aren't all that great, the thing that jumped out at me was how exquisite their plumage is, how wonderfully they blend in to the tree they creep upon. I mean, I already knew this to an extent, but for some reason it never registered as deeply as it did once I had my own photo to contemplate. In any case my appreciation for the bird grew immediately.

    On a completely unrelated note, I think it's funny how the Google ads on the right all key in on the initials "B.A", bringing up ads for things completely irrelevant to the subject of this blog. Unless you also happen to be into British Airways and trading Boeing stocks. (Hmmm…those things *do* have to do with flight, and birds fly, so maybe there's a connection after all.)

  • Rexroth's Daughter January 7, 2006, 6:13 pm

    First time here. A commenter on the Dharma Bums blog suggested that I stop by here. I am so glad that she did. This is a wonderful site. I've never seen a Brown Creeper, but what a beautiful little bird. And that coloring is fantastic! I just checked the Sibley's Guide and found that the Brown Creeper is here on the Olympic Peninsula year round. Makes me wonder if I'm seeing it, and just not noticing.

  • Nuthatch January 7, 2006, 7:59 pm

    Hey, and it wasn't even me or someone I paid that left the sugggestion!

    You have to be rather mindful to find creepers at times, but in winter they can be a bit easier. Listen for their high, lisping call that sounds a little bit like a Cedar Waxwing.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  • Cindy January 8, 2006, 1:15 pm

    whaddya mean your pitiful haiku? its better than mine, thats for sure :)
    You always do my photos justice with your gift of words- creepers are just the coolest!
    your bud,

  • birdchaser January 11, 2006, 9:32 am

    I've been enjoying creepers a lot lately and glad to see someone else blogging about them.

  • Lene January 24, 2006, 12:48 am

    I've wondered what a Brown Creeper looks like. Glad they featured your post on the Bird and I Carnival. Very sweet poem too.

  • Gwyn January 28, 2006, 11:56 am

    I am a lover of the Brown Creeper as well. You've gotta love a bird who can sit right out in the open and never be seen. No hiding in the brush for them. I can only imagine the wonder of your close up encounter as a child.