Hodgson’s Treecreeper

The three subspecies grouped under Hodgson’s Treecreeper Certhia hodgsoni were once considered the Himalayan ssp. of Eurasian Treecreeper C. familiaris. Ranges Pakistan to China and Burma. In China, khamensis southern Gansu to eastern and southern Qinghai and western Sichuan, southeast Tibet, and northwest Yunnan. Ranges of C. h. khamensis and Eurasian Treecreeper C. f. bianchii abut in Qin Mountains; bianchii on northern flanks, khamensis on south. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Coniferous forests, in summer to 4100 m (13,450 ft.), in winter down to 1600 m (5,250 ft.). Like all treecreepers, spirals jerkily up trunks of large trees, using strong tail as prop, like a woodpecker; but largely unable to move down the trunk. Having reached the top of a tree, it flies to the base of the next tree and creeps upward again. Also moves horizontally across boughs and on underside of branches. Eats invertebrates gleaned from bark. ID & COMPARISON C. h. khamensis has a different song from C. f. bianchii and rump slightly deeper rufous. Cryptically colored, with warm, brownish-black upperparts and variable white to buffish spotting and streaking. White, long supercilium; black lores; brownish-black cheeks (smaller and more isolated than most other treecreepers except Eurasian) with whitish center. Rump rusty-orange; long, stiff tail brown. Chin, throat, and belly clean white; flanks, vent and undertail coverts brownish-grey. Wing pattern complex with several blackish and buff bands; wing coverts (including alula) have whitish tips (most prominent and wedge-shaped on greater coverts); primary bases buff; buff “stair-like” band on secondaries and primaries separated by blackish (on closed wing), arrow-shaped band from another, broader and less distinct warm buff and “stair-like” band that runs closer to the tips of flight feathers; whitish tips of flight feathers demarcated by irregular blackish band just inside. Juvenile duller and has less rusty rump. Bill black above, pale brown below. Bar-tailed Treecreeper C. himalayana occurs at similar altitudes and in similar habitat as Hodgson’s but has barred tail, tertials, and primary bases, a less distinct supercilium, and a longer, more decurved bill. Sichuan Treecreeper C. tianquanensis, Rusty-flanked Treecreeper C. nipalensis, Hume’s Treecreeper C. manipurensis, and Sikkim Treecreeper C. discolor usually occur at lower altitudes; Sichuan has a shorter, straighter bill, slightly browner underparts, and a unique descending trill; Rusty-flanked has rufous flanks; and Sikkim and Hume’s have darker throat and breast and more prominent white supercilium and lack cinnamon vent and undertail coverts. BARE PARTS Feet pale brown, with long decurved claws (especially hind claw). VOICE High-pitched, thin song, tsee-tsee-tsee (similar to Eurasian, but with rolling “r” character). — Craig Brelsford

THE TREECREEPERS OF CHINA

shanghaibirding.com has research on all seven species of treecreeper in China. Click any link below:

Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
Hodgson’s Treecreeper C. hodgsoni
Bar-tailed Treecreeper C. himalayana
Rusty-flanked Treecreeper C. nipalensis
Sikkim Treecreeper C. discolor
Hume’s Treecreeper C. manipurensis
Sichuan Treecreeper C. tianquanensis

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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