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A Brown Creeper beautifully photographed by Tom Munson

The other day I was outside enjoying the garden when I noticed that a piece of bark was hopping up and down the fence in a peculiar spiral pattern.  When I looked more closely, I realized that it was not bark at all, but an amazingly camouflaged hunter—the brown creeper (Certhia Americana).  This tiny North American songbird lives in deciduous and conifer forests, wooded meadows, and even in towns with sufficient tree cover (like Brooklyn, apparently!).  Brown creepers range from the southwest United States up to the Canadian provinces…even up to southern Alaska, but I’ve never seen one before (or probably I have, I just never realized it was a bird).  The pattern of its feathers, which looked so random and wood-like was actually quite beautiful and subtle when the bird was seen in the real world.  I have included some professional photos because mine didn’t come out.  The brown creeper also had an endearing little pale belly.

The brown creeper's call (does anyone have a flute or a harpsichord?)

The little bird acted much like a nuthatch (of which I am greatly fond) making short rapid hops up and down the aging wood of the garden fence.  It was clearly looking for tasty insects with its sharp curved beak and I believe it caught quite a few of the pests.  Then in a flash it was gone.  I’m used to the popular songbirds or the northeast, but I have never noticed the brown creeper and I found it rather touching.  Has anyone else seen these around here (or anywhere else)?

Brown Creeper (another amazing photo--this one by John Brierley)

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