tree-creeper defined in 1930 yeartree-creeper - Tree-Creeper;
tree-creeper - Upper parts mottled with yellowish brown, dark brown, and white; a pale streak over the eye; throat and breast buff-white, becoming dusky on the belly; wings brown, tipped with white, and barred with white, brown, and dull yellow; tail-feathers reddish brown, stiff, and pointed. Length, five inches.
The little creeper appears to move more in a groove than almost any other passerine bird, and is the most monotonous in its life; yet it never fails to interest, doubtless because in its appearance and actions it differs so much from other species. A small bird - one of the very smallest - with striped and mottled brown upper, and silvery white under, plumage; long and slim in figure, with a slender curved bill and stiff, pointed tail-feathers, it spends its life on the boles and branches of trees, exploring the rough bark with microscopic sight for the minute insects and their eggs and larvae it subsists on, moving invariably upwards in a spiral from the roots to the branches by a series of rapid jerks; its appearance as it travels over the surface, against which it presses so closely, is that of a mammal rather than a bird - a small mottled brown mouse with an elongated body. It is more of a parasite on the trees that furnish it with food than any other bird of similar habits. Nuthatches and woodpeckers are not so dependent on their trade; their habits and diet vary to some extent with the seasons and the conditions they exist in. The creeper is a creeper on trees all the year round, and extracts all his sustenance from the bark. His procedure is always the same: no sooner has he got to the higher and smoother part of the bole up which he has travelled than he detaches himself from it, and drops slantingly through the air to the roots of another tree, to begin as before. The action is always accompanied with a little querulous note, which falls like an exclamation, and seems to express disgust at the miserable harvest he has gathered, or else satisfaction that yet another tree in the long weary tale of trees has been examined and left behind. The fanciful idea is formed that the creeper has not found happiness in his way of life: it is so laborious a way; he must live so close to the dull-hued and always shaded bark, and examine it so narrowly ' The contrast of such a method with that of other small birds - warblers and wagtails, and swallows and finches - is very great. Feeding-time with them is song-time and play-time; their blithe voices and lively antics and motions show how happy they are in their lives. The creeper is a rather silent bird, but he utters in the pairing season a shrill, high-pitched call-note, and the same sound is emitted when the nest is in danger. The song, which is occasionally heard in spring, is composed of three or four shrill notes resembling the call-notes in sound.
The nest is a neat and pretty structure, and is often placed against the trunk of a tree, behind a piece of bark that has become partly detached. A hole in the trunk, or in a large branch, or in a cavity where a portion of the wood has rotted away, is often selected as a site. When the nest is made behind a piece of loose bark, the cavity is filled up with a quantity of fine twigs. Inside, the nest is formed of roots, moss, and sometimes feathers, and lined with fine strips of inside bark. Six to nine eggs are laid, pure white, with reel spots. Two broods are reared m a season.
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