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Not just trees for this bird !

June 29, 2012

This White-throated Treecreeper spends most nights of the year clinging to the brick wall of our house, and it has been doing so for at least the past 8 years. (The nest seen above the bird is an old swallow’s nest). We assume it’s the same individual as it’s always solitary, and it is hard to imagine how it would pass on the habit to any offspring. The treecreeper has a clever technique of locking the tendons in its legs so that, with its strong feet and claws, it can sleep while clinging upright to a tree trunk – or a brick wall !

This particular bird has about five alternative sites for roosting in the angled brickwork; next to the chimney seems to be a favourite one in winter, or when disturbed near the front door.

We think the bird is a male, but once it has settled in at dusk it is too dark to see if it has the tell-tale orange cheek-spot of the female.

It is worth mentioning the unusual climbing technique of treecreepers. They put one foot ahead of the other, then move the lower foot up level with the front one, and continue in this manner so that the same foot always takes the lead. The leading foot may be either the left or right, but the bird does not hop like some other birds, nor does it “walk” in the usual manner of one foot ahead of the other in sequence. It cannot hang downwards like a sittella, so that, apart from an occasional shuffle backwards down a tree, it only moves upwards, eventually flying down to a low point on a nearby tree trunk. [Reference: Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds]

Treecreepers have quite a range of calls/songs. The call recorded here  is given as it leaves the brick wall outside our bedroom at dawn, which can act as a useful alarm clock – or an annoying intrusion if we wish to sleep in!
It can also give a lovely mellow trill, as recorded here

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