Brown Creeper

Certhia americana
Range Map

The Brown Creepers have an appearance very reminiscent of a wren, but their behaviour is more like a nuthatch. These birds range across most of temperate North America in mature, coniferous forests. We usually observe nuthatches climbing down tree trunks. Because of the need to use their tails as a brace, Brown Creepers are not capable of downward movement, and always climb up the trees. The cryptic patterning on their back provide these birds with a marvelous ability to virtually dissappear against tree-bark.

Aside from the birds I met in Madera Canyon (Arizona), all the Brown Creepers I’ve met have been in southern California. There are 13 recognized subspecies of Brown Creepers. Most of the birds I’ve met I believe to be C. a. occidentalis, but the birds I met at Madera Canyon in Arizona appear to be a different subspecies, probably C. a. montana.

The full list of subspecies follows:

  • C. a. americana breeds from Saskatchewan east to Newfoundland and south to Minnesota east to West Virginia.
  • C. a. nigrescens lives in Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina.
  • C. a. montana lives in Rockies from British Columbia and Alberta east to South Dakota and south Arizona and Texas.
  • C. a. alascensis breeds in southern Alaska, and spends winter in Idaho and south to Arizona and New Mexico.
  • C. a. occidentalis lives west of the Coast Ranges and Cascades, from Alaska south to northern California.
  • C. a. stewarti lives on Queen Charlotte Island in British Columbia (Canada).
  • C. a. phillipsi lives in Coast Ranges of central California from San Francisco, south to San Luis Obispo County.
  • C. a. zelotes lives east of the Cascades from Oregon south through the Sierra Nevada, Inyo Mountains, southern California and in the inner Coast Ranges of northern California.
  • C. a. leucosticta lives in southern Nevada and western-central Utah.
  • C. a. albescens lives in Arizona and New Mexico south through western mountains of Mexico to the states in southern Mexico.
  • C. a. alticola lives in the volcanic ranges of southern Mexico.
  • C. a. pernigra lives in the highlands of southern Mexico and northern Central America.
  • C. a. extima lives in Central America.

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