Family Treecreepers (Certhiidae)

Least Concern

American Treecreeper (Certhia americana)


French: Grimpereau brun German: Amerikabaumläufer Spanish: Agateador americano
Other common names: Brown Creeper

Certhia americana


, 1838,

eastern and northern parts of North America


Formerly treated as conspecific with C. familiaris, but differs genetically and vocally; genetic evidence (cytochrome b) indicates that its closest relative is C. brachydactyla. Geographical variation slight and largely clinal, races intergrading where they meet, e.g. those breeding NE USA E from about SE Minnesota and S to N Virginia and Maryland are intermediate between nominate and nigrescens (for convenience, included in former) and proposed races caurina, iletica and idahoensis all included in montana#R. “Brown morph” of nominate race in Newfoundland described as race anticostiensis. In S Mexico, proposed races jaliscensis (described from S Jalisco), guerrerensis (from Guerrero) and molinensis (from Oaxaca) all synonymized with alticola. On other hand, marked difference (including genetic) between N birds and Mexican ones, with basal separation N and S of Sonoran/Chihuahuan desert (supporting separation into two subspecies groups), although overall six clades have been identified#R#R#R. Thirteen subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. a. alascensis Webster, 1986 – SC Alaska (S at least from Mt McKinley and E from Kodiak I); non-breeding also WC USA (Idaho S to SE Arizona and SW New Mexico, E to NW Arkansas).
  • C. a. occidentalis Ridgway, 1882 – Pacific coast from SE Alaska S in W USA to NC California, E to coastal slopes of Coast Range in Alaska and British Columbia and W slope of Cascades in Washington and Oregon; non-breeding also occasionally E to CS British Columbia and in WC California.
  • C. a. stewarti Webster, 1986 – Queen Charlotte Is (possibly also N Vancouver I), off British Columbia.
  • C. a. zelotes Osgood, 1901 – E slope of Cascades from S Oregon S through Sierra Nevada to mountains of N, E & S California and E to Nevada; non-breeding also Arizona and New Mexico.
  • C. a. phillipsi Unitt & Rea, 1997 – outer Coast Ranges of C California (from San Francisco S to San Luis Obispo County).
  • C. a. montana Ridgway, 1882 – interior SW Canada (E from E flanks of Coast Range in British Columbia, N Alberta) and in WC USA from Cascades of Washington and C Oregon E to CN Idaho, NW Montana and W South Dakota and S to S Arizona and extreme W Texas (Guadalupe Mts); non-breeding also W to Pacific coast, E to Wisconsin and Louisiana, and S to N Mexico (N Coahuila).
  • C. a. leucosticta van Rossem, 1931 – mountains of S Nevada and WC Utah.
  • C. a. americana Bonaparte, 1838 – American Treecreeper – S Canada from C Saskatchewan and C & S Manitoba E to S Quebec (including Anticosti I and Brion I), New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Prince Edward I, also NE USA S to S Wisconsin, NE Ohio, E West Virginia and N Virginia; non-breeding mainly USA (E from Colorado, S to Texas and Florida) and NE Mexico (S to SE Coahuila).
  • C. a. nigrescens Burleigh, 1935 – Great Smoky Mts (E Tennessee and North Carolina), in E USA.
  • C. a. albescens Berlepsch, 1888 – Mexican Treecreeper – mountains of SW USA (SE Arizona and SW New Mexico) and NW Mexico (S in Sierra Madre Occidental to NE Nayarit, NW Jalisco and W Zacatecas).
  • C. a. alticola G. S. Miller, 1895 – Mexico in Sierra Madre Oriental (S from Coahuila, W Nuevo León and Tamaulipas) and Sierra Madre del Sur (Jalisco E to Oaxaca).
  • C. a. pernigra Griscom, 1935 – S Mexico (C Chiapas) E to Guatemala (to Volcán de Fuego).
  • C. a. extima W. deW. Miller & Griscom, 1925 – E Guatemala (Sierra de las Minas), Honduras and NC Nicaragua (S at least to San Rafael del Norte).
  • Descriptive notes

    12–13·5 cm; 8–9·9 g, autumn migrants in E USA (New Jersey) 6·5–9·8 g. Many races occur in two morphs, one basically brown (... read more


    Calls include soft but penetrating, high-pitched, drawn-out, sibilant “seee” or “trsee”, a pure,... read more


    Primarily late successional stages of coniferous or mixed woodland, preferring extensive areas of... read more

    Food and feeding

    Variety of small (less than 3 mm) insects and larvae, spiders (Araneae) and their eggs, and pseudoscorpions (Pseudoscorpiones); in winter... read more


    Season in most of range May–Jul, although may begin in Apr, especially in S & W USA; from Mar in S Mexico; single-brooded. Nest... read more


    Resident and migratory. Present all year as far N as coast of S Alaska, S Canada (regular E British... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common in summer in most of breeding range; uncommon in Alaska, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Prince Edward I, Montana,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Harrap, S. (2019). American Treecreeper (Certhia americana). 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 18 April 2019).