Your Birding Month
A profile of the lovable Treecreeper plus five birds to add your ticklist
The Treecreeper is one of those birds that everybody loves. It is in many ways adorable: tiny, famously mouselike, nicely patterned and very distinctive in its shape and behaviour. Who could resist watching one of these little curve-billed, woodpecker-tailed cuties spiralling round a vertical trunk? It is also one of those birds which are much more often heard than seen, though many birdwatchers are either unaware of the calls and song or are incapable of hearing such high-pitched sounds. The call is a very high-pitched, repeated, almost buzzing ‘srreee’ (which sounds like it is made of many individual notes squeezed into one). The song is a short ditty which has almost the tone of a Blue Tit and the pattern of a Willow Warbler’s song, descending then ending in a little trill. And, on sunny days, you may well hear one singing in December (see inset photograph). Both sounds are very useful to know, as by the nature of the Treecreeper’s woodland habitat and vertical, creeping habits, it can be a tricky customer to see. The high-pitched nature of the calls makes it hard to track down, though, but will give you a general direction, and with luck you may see one of these tiddlers, spiralling or perhaps dropping down to start the spiralling again, on a nearby trunk. Treecreepers are widely distributed across the country, found just about everywhere that has any trees (so absent from high mountains, but present in most other places). They are one of the few birds which are very comfortable in coniferous woodland; soft bark is just their cup of tea for probing with that mini-curlew bill.