Family Treecreepers (Certhiidae)

Least Concern

Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla)


French: Grimpereau des jardins German: Gartenbaumläufer Spanish: Agateador europeo

Certhia brachydactyla

C. L. Brehm

, 1820,

Roda Valley, Thuringia, Germany


Recent genetic evidence (cytochrome b) indicates that this species is closest to C. americana. Geographical variation slight and largely clinal, but N African race mauritanica exhibits moderately well-marked genetic and vocal differences from European races and may merit separate species status; further study required. Nominate race and megarhynchos intergrade in C Pyrenees, W & S Spain and S Portugal. Proposed races harterti (NW Turkey) and stresemanni (N Turkey) included in nominate, although situation in Asia Minor complicated and difficult to resolve due to relative lack of good specimen material#R#R; proposed race spatzi#R (Omalos Plateau, Crete) inseparable from dorotheae#R. Five subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. b. megarhynchos C. L. Brehm, 1831 – Channel Is, W & N France, Belgium, Netherlands and W Germany S to NW Spain and Portugal.
  • C. b. brachydactyla C. L. Brehm, 1820 – S Denmark, Poland and extreme S Lithuania S to E & SE France, Spain (except NW), C Germany, Italy, Sicily, Greece, Hungary, W Ukraine, very locally Romania, and N, W & S Turkey.
  • C. b. mauritanica Witherby, 1905 – Morocco (S to Middle and High Atlas), Algeria (S to Saharan Atlas and Aurès Range) and NW Tunisia.
  • C. b. dorotheae#R E. J. O. Hartert, 1904 – Crete and Cyprus.
  • C. b. rossocaucausica Stepanyan, 2000 – foot of SW Caucasus on Black Sea coast (E at least to NC Georgia) and possibly Azerbaijan.
  • Descriptive notes

    12·5 cm; 7·5–11 g. Nominate race in fresh plumage (autumn and winter) has feathers of crown and nape rather dark brown, fringed blackish, with narrow off-... read more


    Calls similar to those of C. familiaris but louder, more emphatic and more varied, include... read more


    Mixed and broadleaf deciduous woodland, particularly oak (Quercus), favouring edge... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food mainly insect larvae and pupae, and spiders (Araneae), also some seeds. Forages on trunks and larger boughs of trees, sometimes among... read more


    Season Apr to mid-Jun, occasionally from late Mar; usually double-brooded. Apparently occasionally polygynous, also simultaneous bigamy (... read more


    Resident, with some altitudinal movement; otherwise rather strictly sedentary, with very limited... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally fairly common, but scarcer towards N & E of range; rare in Caucasus. Breeding densities ranging from 0·5 pairs/10 ha to 5–6 pairs... read more

    Recommended citation

    Harrap, S. (2019). Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla). 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 10 December 2019).