Bird of the Month - December 2020

Each month, Birds Queensland highlights a Bird of the Month. To learn more about our Queensland birds, make sure you return to this page each month to read about the featured species.

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White-throated Treecreeper
Cormobates leucophaea

Article: Sandra Harding

The White-throated Treecreeper is a resident of the east coast of the Australian mainland and occurs in forests foraging on rough barked trunks and large branches for insects including ants and beetles. The sweet sap from wounds in eucalypt trees is also eaten. It is seldom seen feeding on the ground and is not highly sociable compared to Brown Treecreepers who live in groups and forage together. Like the Brown Treecreeper it spirals up tree trunks and along branches. Refer to this link to see it foraging:

It will join mixed species flocks where their role is typically as a follower. I have usually identified them by their call – probably their territorial call, which is quite loud and this helps to locate them. In order to protect their territories, they have complex calls and displays.

The adult female is more colourful than the male as she has a rufous spot below ear coverts. They nest in a cavity in a tree trunk or limb. The home range of a pair is approximately 5 ha.

White-throated Treecreeper - female White-throated Treecreeper - female
White-throated Treecreeper - female
Photos: ©Jim Sneddon
White-throated Treecreeper - female
Photos: ©Graham Donaldson
White-throated Treecreeper - male
White-throated Treecreeper - male
©Graham Donaldson

The conservation status of the White-throated Treecreeper is Least Concern on the IUCN Red list.

There are five sub-species with C. l. metastasis in SE Queensland and NE New South Wales. C. I. minor occurs in the highlands of NE Queensland and C. I. intermedia in the highlands of CE Queensland.

I have noticed that their distribution within a small area of forest is not continuous. In my local patch in Burbank they occur in both higher terrain areas and lower elevations but only in particular habitats. They are always found on Mt Petrie but not in the surrounding lower elevation forest. Their next patch of habitat is about 5 kms away near the Leslie Harrison Dam and along Tingalpa Creek. It is interesting whether their separate populations are sustainable in the long term (depending on dispersal distance of young birds) and why they have specific habitat requirements. The reasons could be that they are restricted to an area with enough rough barked trees for a territory; or the availability of tree holes for breeding. Tree holes are generally in high demand and may be lost through fire and clearing of old timber. There are treecreeper nest boxes advertised by Hollow log homes.

References:

Illustrated checklist of birds of the world
Honeyeaters and their Allies of Australia (National Photographic Index)
The Australian Bird Guide

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