Time for the creeps to make their presence known here at LifeIntrigued! No, I am not continuing the Halloween theme featured on the previous many posts. Nope, today we are featuring the creep of the birding world.
That, my non-birding friends, is a fine specimen of the Brown Creeper. This is pretty much a Winter bird here in the Midwest but more of a year round resident in the West. Luckily, Linda and I were on our vacation to Colorado when I spotted this Creeper. All in all the birding up to that point on the trip was .. how should I put .. let’s go with pathetic. I could not find anything on numerous stops up to this point. In fact, this discovery didn’t really happen until we were almost back to the car from a medium out and back hike.
Hit the jump to read and see more of this distinctive bird.
To be specific, these Creepers shots were taken at Mueller State Park in Colorado. This was a very pretty park especially with all the Aspens showing off their fall splendor. A word of caution though, it is easy to forget you are at 9400ft – that is until your body provides a not so kindly reminder with a swift kick to the sternum. This year I am probably in the best cardio shape of my life since ending my martial arts career some 13 years ago. Still, that elevation kicked my butt this year resulting on a nearly week long headache and sleep disruption that rivaled a full on altitude sickness episode experienced many years back on snowboarding trip.
Then again, what’s a hunt without some work! As mentioned, we were nearly done with the hike when this Creeper came flying across the path and landed low on a tree trunk a few feet off the trail. Anything that moved was enough to get me excited at that point but this one seemed really interesting from first looks. Not until it landed on the tree and started traversing up the bark did it register what it was. Unfortunately, it was moving from pine tree trunk to pine tree trunk which makes it very difficult to get a good bead on it – why you ask .. because of this..
The creeper is well suited to blend into its surroundings and if it chose to sit still for even a split second you would likely lose it instantly. Good thing for us birders they are more hyper than a kid on November 1st. Up, down, left, right repeat at nausea. The other thing that was working against me was the lighting – the trees were putting up quite the defense against the sun leaving my glass straining to get proper exposure.
Linda finally gave up on helping me track it and headed back to take care of the boys. That left me to do battle with this active bird all by myself. It was behaving fairly consistent in the sense it would land low on a tree trunk, traverse completely around and up for 4 to 5 feet and then fly off to another tree further away from me. This allowed me to anticipate a bit and get into a better position where there was more light. As expected, it made its way into the light allowing me to get some fairly decent shots. It did keep its chest close to the trunk but was able to get a nice shot of that snowy white chest (above) when it moved onto a small branch.
Brown Creepers are very unique and easily identified in the field. If the white speckling on the back doesn’t trigger the ID, the small downward shaped bill and massive claws should be a dead giveaway. According to our friends over at Cornell, these tiny woodland birds are primarily insect eaters which was verified if you look close at the shot above. They are extremely efficient in their calorie burn requiring only 4-10 calories a day – that bug.. will probably fuel it for a couple of hours. They build hammock shaped nests and are known to be quite creative in their locations.
These little creatures range in the 4.5 to 5.5 inch length and .2 to .4 oz weight. They are primarily resident in the US with a line snaking up into Alaska and can generally be heard before they are seen – they are fairly high pitched with a warbling like song. It does, thankfully, carry the Least Concern Conservation Status. One of my favorite birds and glad I can finally put that official check mark in the birding list.