Brown Treecreepers are highly sociable birds, living and breeding communally. Each year, the previous year's offspring will remain to help the breeding male feed the female and rear new chicks. Interestingly, it is usually only males which remain to perform this duty.
The Brown Treecreeper is the largest of Australia's treecreepers. It is mostly pale brown in plumage. Birds of northern Queensland are darker brown. The head, throat and upper breast are pale greyish-brown, while the lower breast and belly are strongly streaked with black and buff. In flight, a buff stripe can be seen in the wing. The sexes are similar, except females have rufous edges to the feathers of the upper breast, while in the male these edges are black. Young Brown Treecreepers resemble the adults, but are duller, have less obvious stripes on the underparts and the lower belly is a pale rufous colour.
Found in the drier open forests and woodlands, the Brown Treecreeper stays in the same area all year round.
Brown Treecreepers are found across much of eastern Australia. They range from patches in the northern part of Cape York Peninsula across central and eastern Queensland, down throughout New South Wales into the majority of Victoria and eastern parts of South Australia.
Feeding and diet
The Brown Treecreeper climbs up the trunks and branches of trees in search of food. It probes into cavities and under loose bark with its long downward curving bill. In this way it searches for insects and their larvae. The most favoured insects are ants. Some feeding also takes place on the ground on fallen logs. Sometimes, birds can be seen diving on ground-dwelling prey from a perch in a tree. Feeding normally takes place in pairs or small groups.
The Brown Treecreeper has a loud 'spink' call, which is given either singly or in a series, and normally betrays its presence before the bird is seen.
The nest is a collection of grasses, feathers and other soft material, placed in a suitable tree hollow or similar site. Both sexes build the nest, but the female alone incubates the eggs. Pairs often have two broods during each breeding season. Occasionally, other birds ('helpers') assist the breeding pair with building of nest and feeding the young chicks.
- Breeding season: June to January
- Clutch size: 2 to 3
- Incubation: 17 days
- Time in nest: 26 days
- Higgins, P.J., J.M. Peter & W.K. Steele. (eds) 2001. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 5: Tyrant-flycatchers to Chats. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
- Longmore, N.W. 1991. The Honeyeaters and their Allies of Australia. Angus and Robertson and The National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.
- Pizzey, G. and Knight, F. 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
- Schodde, R. and Tideman, S.C. (eds) 1990. Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds (2nd Edition). Reader's Digest (Australia) Pty Ltd, Sydney.