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Quick facts

Common names: treecreeper, tree mouse

Scientific name: Certhia familiaris

Family: Certhiidae (treecreepers)

Habitat: broadleaf and conifer woodland

Diet: insects and seeds

Predators: nests are predated by woodpeckers and small mammals; adults are taken by birds of prey

Origin: native

What do treecreepers look like?

Treecreepers are mottled brown in colour, with light streaks and white underparts. Their mottled brown feathers help them to easily blend in with the trees they climb.

They have a white stripe above the eye and a long, thin beak which curves downwards. Their stiff tail is used like an extra limb to help brace against vertical trunks.

Did you know?

Treecreepers are homebodies; they stay in their own small territories, some sticking to only one tree!

treecreeper climbing tree trunk eating butterfly

Credit: Geoff Smith / Alamy Stock Photo

What do treecreepers eat?

Treecreepers are active during the day. They creep up trees, exploring bark and crevices, using their long, sharp beaks to pick out insects such as earwigs. Once they’ve reached the top of the trunk, they will often fly down to the base of another and repeat their upward climb. They might also feed on seeds during the winter months when invertebrates are scarce.

Did you know?

The collective noun for treecreepers is a ‘spiral’, so named for their habit of spiralling up a tree trunk as they hunt for insects.

 

How do treecreepers breed?

Breeding begins in April. The nest is constructed with spiders’ webs, grass, moss and feathers and wedged into a crevice, usually between a tree and loose bark. Clutches are usually of five to six eggs. Chicks fledge at around 15 days old, but will return to the nesting site for a few days to be fed by their parents.

treecreeper on tree trunk with insect in beak

Credit: Rebecca Cole / Alamy Stock Photo

Where do treecreepers live?

Treecreepers are active throughout the year and are found across the UK, apart from a few areas of Scotland. Spot them in woodland, both deciduous and coniferous, and keep a sharp eye out for them moving up tree trunks.

Did you know?

Treecreepers only ever climb up trees, never down.

Signs and spotting tips

Treecreepers are actually very common birds; they’re just hard to spot. Movement gives them away – look for them on tree trunks climbing upwards. But approach quietly: when treecreepers are disturbed they freeze where they are, blending into patterned bark. Their song is very quiet and could be mistaken for insect noise.

Treecreeper song

Audio: Bernard King / xeno-canto.org

treecreeper climbing up tree close up

Credit: Stan Ashbourne / WTML

Threats and conservation

Treecreepers are not currently threatened in the UK. According to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the treecreeper population peaked in the 1970s, but has remained stable since 1980.