Tuesday, February 26, 2008
It’s always a surprise to see a creeper. “Looking like a piece of bark come to life,” writes Kenn Kaufman, “the brown creeper crawls up trunks of trees, ferreting out insect eggs and other morsels missed by more active birds.” More active birds? Have you ever seen a creeper? They’re always on the move. Late yesterday, while reading on the deck, I watched one of the odd bark-brown birds creeping up a slumbering oak. Creep. Creep. Creep. The passerine with the down-curved bill searches the furrows and fissures of tree bark for a meal but one has to wonder: How many insect eggs does it take to make a proper meal?
Creepers slowly spiral upwards and from high atop one tree, they fly down to the base of a neighboring one, starting the upward creep all over again. I feel a kinship; I think I've been creeping all my life, although the next time I get to a plateau, I believe I'll stay for awhile and admire the view; stop and smell the altitudinal roses, so to speak.
Creepers are the sole North American member of the treecreeper family (Certhiidae) and a species that’s only in the Tennessee Valley in the cold weather months. They return to northern environs to nest in early spring, but until then, they’ll be creeping throughout our local forests.