From my home office window I was admiring the large, male hairy woodpecker, his heavy weight twirling the house feeder. The dab of red on the back of his head set in sharp contrast to the white and black feathers that looked freshly washed covering the rest of his body. His huge, sturdy bill easily stabbed the sunflower seeds. A movement behind him caught my eye. A small piece of white pine bark was floating around the base of the tree.
Oh, a brown creeper. One of our resident "little brown birds" that is easy to identify and fun to watch. As its name suggests, this small bird creeps along tree trunks, starting at the base and spiraling upward around the trunk. When it reaches a certain height, the creeper flies to the base of another tree and starts its spiraling ascent. Its small size and brown and white colors is suitable camouflage against the bark of pine, hemlock, fir, and other softwoods where it lives.
The creeper's long, thin curved bill is used to pluck insects and spiders from bark crevices. Like woodpeckers, the brown creeper braces its long, stiff tail against the trunk as it climbs. The brown creeper has one of the prettiest early spring songs -- several high, clear thin musical notes, sometimes mistaken for a warbler or kinglet. Soon the creeper will be looking for a suitable nest site behind the flap of loose bark on a dead or dying tree, gathering spider egg cases, cocoons, moss, fine bark, and other soft materials for its nest.