Family Nuthatches (Sittidae)

Least Concern

African Spotted Creeper (Salpornis salvadori)


French: Salpornis de Salvadori German: Afrikastammsteiger Spanish: Agateador moteado africano
Other common names: African Salpornis

Hylypsornis salvadori


, 1878,

Caconda, Angola


Until recently considered conspecific with S. spilonota, but differs in its patterned vs clear white chin and throat (2); shorter bill (effect size on published data#R –1.82, score 1); longer wing (effect size on published data#R 1.35, score 1); and higher-pitched song and calls (3)#R. Race emini vocally distinct, having the shortest and lowest-pitched song of all races, and a longer, broader bill and shorter tail than others; merits further study. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. s. emini Hartlaub, 1884 – West African Spotted Creeper – W Guinea, N Sierra Leone, extreme S Mali#R and N Ivory Coast E to Nigeria, N Cameroon, S Chad (S from Azoum/Chari confluence) and N Central African Republic; also S South Sudan, adjacent NE DRCongo (NE Uele) and formerly extreme NW Uganda (Arua district#R). Rare in Gambia and SE Senegal.
  • S. s. salvadori (Bocage, 1878) – East African Spotted Creeper – extreme E Uganda and adjacent highlands of W Kenya; also C Angola, S & SE DRCongo, most of Zambia, NE, W & S Tanzania (S from near SE of L Victoria in W and from Songea and Liwale in SE), Malawi and N Mozambique (S to R Zambezi). Recorded also at extreme N Botswana (Kasane#R).
  • S. s. erlangeri Neumann, 1907 – W & SC Ethiopian highlands.
  • S. s. xylodromus Clancey, 1975 – N & C Zimbabwe (Zambezi Escarpment and Mashonaland Plateau) and adjacent Mozambique (Manica platform S to R Save).
  • Descriptive notes

    15 cm; 13·5–16 g. Very distinctive if seen well, with spotted and barred plumage, long, slender, decurved bill and bark-gleaning habits; tail slightly rounded and, unlike... read more


    Song in W Africa (emini) a short, simple series of clear, slightly plaintive whistled... read more


    In W Africa principally in mature, open Isoberlinia woodland and in S tropics in rather... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet comprises insects such as small beetles and their larvae, winged ants and other small hymenopterans, moths, bugs, caterpillars, and... read more


    Season Jan–Feb in Ghana, Apr (and possibly Mar) in Ethiopia, May and Dec in Kenya/Uganda, Nov in Tanzania; Aug–Sept in Angola, Oct–Dec in... read more


    Essentially resident, but some seasonal movements thought to occur. A scatter of records away from... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). In W Africa generally rather scarce and local, although may be frequent in NW Sierra Leone and N Ivory Coast; uncommon to locally... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). African Spotted Creeper (Salpornis salvadori). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 20 February 2020).