Blog Site by Appointment to His Regal Majesty the Maalie King

He who would be a Leader, let him be a Bridge

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007


My latest ornithological interest is catching and ringing Treecreepers. I do this in the hope of gaining an understanding of their population dynamics, survival and dispersal. The research is conducted with the appropriate licences under the Wildlife and Countryside Acts.

In the wild, Treecreepers Certhia familiaris are rather unassuming little birds, easily slotted into category of "LBJ" (Little Brown Job). They are common in British woodlands as they creep up the trunk of a tree in a rather mouse-like fashion. As a bird approaches the crown of the tree, it flies back down and starts up again, often spiralling around the trunk. This behaviour readily distinguishes them from the other tree creeping bird, the Nuthatch, which can creep up and down the trunk with equal facility. The Treecreeper's long decurved bill is adapted to probing the deepest crevices of bark in order to winkle out insects that may be lurking there. Its tail feathers are quite rigid, and these act as a prop when resting against the side of a tree trunk.
The inconspicuous Treecreeper looking for insect prey in the crevices of bark

Treecreepers are easily caught by attracting them to sound recordings of their song. The song is a thin Willow Warbler-like whistle, easily missed amongst the clamour of louder bird song. However a male Treecreeper can pick out the song from some distance and will fly to "see off" a perceived intruder. In this way it can be intercepted by a mist net.
A Treecreeper enmeshed in a mist net. A licence is required to undertake this research

In the hand the Treecreeper seems transformed from a rather drab image to a medley of browns, buffs and creams, a really exquisite little bird.

A ringed Treecreeper showing the subtleties of its plumage colouration

Wing extended revealing an array of spots and barring on the flight feathers and coverts.

This research study is still in its infancy. As the sample size of ringed birds increases it will be possible to discover more about the natural history of these fascinating little birds.


Blogger Ju's little sister said...

What a little QT.

Best wishes for your research Maalie.

5:10 am  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

It is a gorgeous wee bird.
If the males come down when you play your recording.... how do you catch the females?

10:12 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

What a super little bird. It's so pretty, not a lbj at all. You really do make ornathology very interesting. Have you ever thought of teaching?
At the risk of pushing a point, I do notice that your black spot has migrated from your right ring finger to your left index finger. Are you sure you haven't been any where near Blind Pew?

11:26 am  
Anonymous Ellee said...

What lovely birds and lovely pics, you must have a very gentle touch.

10:03 pm  
Blogger simon said...

hey mate! did a walk last sunday and saw treecreepers too.

I was in the wollemi national park, colo river..

their behviour is the same as our tree creeper?

12:30 am  
Blogger simon said...


12:31 am  
Anonymous Ellee said...

I think I've seen treecreepers too, I remember the name, a friend called it out as she spotted them in a tree in Grantchester in someone's front garden.

Have a very happy Easter, the weather should be good for bird watching.

3:16 pm  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

Seeing your photos reminded me of our rifleman, which I saw on a tree trunk for the first time ever during our recent field trip. So I re-read the info I had about our rifleman to see if they might be related. But (as I am sure you knew already maalie) I discovered that our rifleman is a very 'old' bird, long isolated with us, away from the rest of the world.

10:46 pm  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

maalie.... I finally worked out a mystery from when I 'changed over' to the new blogger. There was one 'unmoderated comment' which has always mystified me. I never had moderation turned on, and I couldn't find the comment. I just turned moderation on now to see if I could solve the problem, and it turned out it involved a comment you had made. Must have been a 'glitch' during the changeover period! (This comment also on my blog!)

1:32 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Happy Easter Maalie. Hope you have had lots of eggs.

1:11 pm  
Blogger simon said...

Hey Jim. Updated my "Bit n bobs" blog.. saw Grey Currawong, Flame Robin and Jacky winter....

8:08 am  
Blogger Maalie said...

Thanks for comments everyone. Kiwi, yes, working out how to catch the females is the next problem :-)

3:52 pm  
Anonymous Ellee said...

Hope you enjoyed your smoked fish and breast of lamb, sounds very scrummy.

9:09 pm  
Anonymous Ellee said...

Jim, remember when I wrote recently about Ronnie Knight and you wondered if he was any happier today. I have the answer for you, it will make you smile, though you may not be totally surprised:


7:31 pm  
Blogger May said...

Why do you call yourself "Her Majesty" and imagine a kindgom and stuff?

5:47 pm  
Blogger Maalie said...

That is a long story May. I suggest you look at the link underneath my avatar which says "The Royal Maalie Court".

8:44 pm  
Anonymous May said...


9:09 pm  
Blogger Tortoiseshell said...

Pyongyang detected in Tortoiseshell territorial cyberspace.

9:56 pm  
Anonymous Plumpy said...

I reckon I could help you catch the females, Maalie.

(I'm very sneaky)

3:38 am  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

Last night I heard a morepork maalie! I was visiting New Plymouth and staying in a hostel set back from the road with quite a lot of nearby bush. It didn't feel all that isolated, but the morepork was calling loud and clear at 11pm!

6:05 am  
Anonymous Ellee said...

That's unbelievable news about your 1p flight to Finland, I've told a couple of people and they are amazed.

10:34 pm  

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