What’s that, creeping up the side of that tree? Why, it must be a Treecreeper! We love it when it’s very obvious where birds got their names, and we love Treecreepers, so in this blog we’ll tell you five facts about our favourite nominative determinism*!


  1. Treecreepers are quite difficult to spot. They are small birds, about the size of Wrens, and have mottled brown feathers on their back, which help them blend in perfectly to the tree trunks. Their nests are also very camouflaged, as they tuck themselves in behind loose pieces of bark.

 A small crack in a tree trunk with a Treecreeper poking its head out.

 An adult Treecreeper emerging from a very well concealed nest. Ben Andrew

  1. Treecreepers are insectivorous, meaning they eat insects. Their long, slender, downcurved bill is perfect for digging around in small cracks in the bark, foraging for tasty insects and spiders.


  1. Some local names for Treecreepers compare them to mice, as they scurry up trees in a very mouse-like manner. They start at the bottom of trees, winding their way up and around the trunk, and then flying down to the bottom to start again. Unlike Nuthatches, they can’t climb back down the tree headfirst, so if you see a bird creeping up a tree, it’s a Treecreeper, if it’s going down the hatch, it’s a Nuthatch!

 A Treecreeper on the side of a tree with an insect in its beak.

 Creeping up with a beakful of bug! Ben Andrew 

  1. There’s only one species of treecreeper found in Scotland, where we call it the Common Treecreeper, or just Treecreeper. However, there are eleven other species of treecreeper across the world.


  1. In summer Treecreepers tend to be solitary or occasionally spotted in pairs, but in autumn and winter they often join flocks of tits and other small birds. Keep an eye and an ear out when you’re walking through woods for these mixed flocks making their way through the tops of trees. You can identify Treecreepers by their high-pitched “see see see” call.


*Nominative determinism is the hypothesis that people tend to gravitate towards areas of work that fit their names.


Main image: a Treecreeper on the side of a tree. Ben Andrew.