Climacteridae – Australasian Treecreepers

Rufous Treecreeper Climacteris rufa ©Ian Montgomery Website

The Australasian treecreepers are in the passerine bird family Climacteridae. They are medium-small, mostly brown birds with patterning on their underparts, and all are endemic to Australia-New Guinea. They resemble, but are not closely related to, the Holarctic treecreepers. The family is one of several families identified by DNA-DNA hybridisation studies to be part of the Australo-Papuan songbird radiation. There is some molecular support for suggesting that their closest relatives are the large lyrebirds.

Treecreepers forage for insects and other small creatures living on and under the bark of trees, mostly eucalypts, though several species also hunt on the ground, through leaf-litter, and on fallen timber. Unlike the Holarctic treecreepers they do not use their tail for support when climbing tree trunks, only their feet.

They nest in holes in trees. The species in the family hold breeding territories, although the extent to which they are defended or are long lasting varies. Some species, such as the red-browed treecreeper and the brown treecreeper are cooperative breeders, others, like the white-throated treecreeper are not. The cooperative breeders form groups or a single breeding pair as well as up to three helpers, which are usually the young males of previous pairings. Helpers assist with the construction of the nest, feeding of the incubating female and feeding and defending the young.

Species List

According to the Handbook of the Birds of the World there are just 7 species in this family; they are:

White-throated Treecreeper Cormobates leucophaeus
Papuan Treecreeper Cormobates placens

Red-browed Treecreeper Climacteris erythrops
White-browed Treecreeper Climacteris affinis
Rufous Treecreeper Climacteris rufa
Brown Treecreeper Climacteris picumnus
Black-tailed Treecreeper Climacteris melanura

Species Links
  • Black-tailed Treecreeper Climacteris melanura

    Species Account
    The Black-tailed Treecreeper is commonly observed on the side of tree trunks, climbing up trunks looking for invertebrates under the bark. It is composed of two distinct sub-species; one in the Pilbara and the other in the Kimberley and Northern Territory...
  • Black-tailed Treecreeper Climacteris melanura

    Species Account
    The black-tailed treecreeper (Climacteris melanurus) is a species of bird in the Climacteridae family. It is endemic to north and northwestern Australia. Its natural habitats are temperate forests and subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests...
  • Black-tailed Treecreeper Climacteris melanura

    IUCN Species Status
    The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
  • Brown Treecreeper Climacteris picumnus

    Species Account
    ...The Brown Treecreeper climbs up the trunks and branches of trees in search of food. It probes into cavities and under loose bark with its long downward curving bill. In this way it searches for insects and their larvae. The most favoured insects are ants. Some feeding also takes place on the ground on fallen logs. Sometimes, birds can be seen diving on ground-dwelling prey from a perch in a tree. Feeding normally takes place in pairs or small groups....
  • Brown Treecreeper Climacteris picumnus

    HBW Species Account
  • Brown Treecreeper Climacteris picumnus

    IUCN Species Status
    The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern...
  • Brown Treecreeper Climacteris picumnus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Brown Treecreeper Climacteris picumnus

    Species Account
    The brown treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus) is the largest Australasian treecreeper. The bird, endemic to eastern Australia, has a broad distribution, occupying areas from Cape York, Queensland, throughout New South Wales and Victoria to Port Augusta and the Flinders Ranges, South Australia...
  • Papuan Treecreeper Cormobates placens

    Species Account
    ...OICE: A mellow series off 5- 10 flute- like or bell- like notes, slowly ascending in pitch, with final note sustained; a gradually descending trill similar to that of Chestnut- breasted Cuckoo (Cacomantis castaneiventris); and a faint nasal triplet, “chu chee chu“....
  • Papuan Treecreeper Cormobates placens

    IBC Species Account
  • Papuan Treecreeper Cormobates placens

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Climacteris placens P. L. Sclater, 1874, Hatam, Arfak Mountains, New Guinea. Genus previously merged into Climacteris, but differs in structure (bill shape, leg length, sole pads, skull, secondaries), egg coloration, plumage (juvenile characteristics, sexual dimorphism) and behaviour; generic separation corroborated by molecular evidence. Genus name originally combined with feminine adjectives, so deemed to be feminine. Forms a superspecies with C. leucophaea, and has in the past been treated as conspecific. There has been no recent taxonomic revision of this species, and distributional limits are uncertain. Four subspecies traditionally recognized.
  • Papuan Treecreeper Cormobates placens

    Species Account
    Sound archive & distribution map
  • Papuan Treecreeper Cormobates placens

    Species Account
    The Papuan treecreeper (Cormobates placens) is a species of bird in the Climacteridae family. It was previously considered a subspecies of the white-throated treecreeper (C. leucophaea)
  • Red-browed Treecreeper Climacteris erythrops

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Red-browed Treecreeper Climacteris erythrops

    Species Account
    The red-browed treecreeper (Climacteris erythrops) is a species of bird in the Climacteridae family. It is endemic to Australia. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.
  • Red-browed Treecreeper Climacteris erythrops

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Climacteris erythrops Gould, 1841, Liverpool Ranges, New South Wales, Australia. Genus name originally introduced with no indication of intended gender, so deemed to be masculine by default. Forms a superspecies with C. affinis. Birds from mountain forests of SE coast of Victoria described as race olinda, but generally considered indistinguishable from populations in rest of range. Monotypic.
  • Red-browed Treecreeper Climacteris erythrops

    Image
    Images
  • Red-browed Treecreeper Climacteris erythrops

    IUCN Species Status
    This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation)....
  • Rufous Treecreeper Climacteris rufa

    BirdLife Species Account
    The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
  • Rufous Treecreeper Climacteris rufa

    IUCN Species Status
    This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation)...
  • Rufous Treecreeper Climacteris rufa

    Image
    Images
  • Rufous Treecreeper Climacteris rufa

    Species Account
    The rufous treecreeper (Climacteris rufus) is a species of bird in the Climacteridae family. It is endemic to Australia.
  • White-browed Treecreeper Climacteris affinis

    BirdLife Species Account
    The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
  • White-browed Treecreeper Climacteris affinis

    HBW Species Account
  • White-browed Treecreeper Climacteris affinis

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • White-browed Treecreeper Climacteris affinis

    Species Account
    The white-browed treecreeper (Climacteris affinis) is a species of bird in the Climacteridae family. It is endemic to Australia.
  • White-throated Treecreeper Cormobates leucophaeus

    Species Account
    The white-throated treecreeper (Cormobates leucophaea) is an Australian treecreeper found in the forests of eastern Australia. It is unrelated to the northern hemisphere treecreepers. It is a small passerine bird with predominantly brown and white plumage and measuring some 15 cm (6 in) long on average. It is insectivorous, eating mainly ants. Unlike treecreepers of the genus Climacteris, the white-throated treecreeper does not engage in cooperative breeding, and wherever it overlaps with species of that genus, it feeds upon much looser bark[2] besides typically using different trees.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 7

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