Something Wild: The Brown Creeper: Songs From The Wood

Dave Anderson | February 28, 2013

Welcome to March!

If you walk in the forest this week, you might detect the song of a non-descript little brown bird called the "brown creeper."

Brown creepers are hard to see. Their habit is to creep upward on tree trunks, often in spiral fashion remaining well-hidden. It sports mottled "tree-bark pattern" camouflage

The creeper has a de-curved bill - like an inverted spoon - which it uses to pry craggy bark as it probes for tasty insects, their eggs and larvae. Brown creepers even sling hammock-shaped nests behind large flakes of bark found on dead and dying trees - peeling plates of white pine, white ash or red maple bark.

I hear that sibilant, warbler-like song by late winter. It's become my favorite harbinger of winter's end. I associate creeper song with strong sunlight streaming through snowy woods on a frosty morning which promises to warm above freezing. Creepers always begin singing in early maple sugaring season when sap flows and tree buds redden and swell in oddly warm sunshine.

Bird songs kindle memories. Hearing a favorite bird's song for first time in many months acclimates me to the seasons of the forest. I feel like an impressionable nestling imprinted on each successive, species-specific song. We may make joyous - or sad - associations with bird songs that will ring through the warming woods! They're heart songs; songs from the wood.