Winter Birds Are Animated Poems

I looked out the window today at the Douglas fir trunks. Something floated down from the roof – a leaf?

Brown Creeper image © Kelly Colgan Azar

It was a Brown Creeper – light as a leaf in the wind, it flitted to the trunk on the nearest tree; like a butterfly it circled the trunk, its mate or flock pal on the tree next door similarly flitting and pecking.

Brown creepers are cryptic little guys. Their backs blend in with dappled brown bark, their white bellies toward the trunk. They systematically search around and up the trunk, then start again at the bottom of the same or a neighboring tree. The eye has to catch their movements…they are gone so quickly. They seem to fly around like scraps of paper.

This time, I saw the most enchanting behavior – so quick, so easy to miss – one bird swirled several times in a quick spiral around, around, around the trunk one direction, then reversed and went the other direction. Is it scaring up the insects in the bark, the better to catch them? Is it doing a quick search to see if there’s anything worth eating? And why the white belly? Does that keep their identity secret from the creatures in the bark – do they look like the sky? They seem to come from the tree, to be the tree in a way. So delightful.

Videos here and here. Note the need for old snags with loose bark and cavities for nesting.