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Thread: 'Northern Treecreeper'

  1. #1
    Senior Member mafting's Avatar
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    Mar 2009

    Default 'Northern Treecreeper'

    I just posted this comment on a thread in the rare birds section, in reply to reports of 'Northern' treecreepers, but thought I'd put it here to see if there's a discussion to be had:

    This field identification of 'Northern Treecreeper' is surely unreliable? I know it's become commonplace, but what are the diagnostic field (or in-hand) criteria that make this 'identification' reliable?

    There are no foreign ringing recoveries for Treecreeper, Svensson says the racial differences in Europe are subtle and overlapping ("mainly slight and clinal"), and Collins illustrates familiaris as most notably having a big white supercilium that distinguishes it from macrodactyla (britannica isn't illustrated, but is supposedly very similar to macrodactyla), yet if you do a quick google for Treecreeper photos in Britain it is immediately obvious that large flaring white supercilia are common.

    So what are people basing these claims on, or am I missing something?

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2008


    I'd guess the occasional records of Treecreepers on Shetland in association with other Scandinavian migrants in autumn is proof that thay can occur. Whether they can be identified in areas where britannica is resident, is another matter! I'd always thought that purer white flanks was the most useful indicator.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2008


    I saw this one at the coast in Belgium last autumn:

    Even though we have a rather big breeding population of macrodactyla in the south, away from the coast, it was accepted as a familiaris by the national rarities committee - about the third or fourth record for the country, and the first field observation to be accepted.

    Aside from the gleaming white underparts, one of the crucial features - of this bird at least - seemed to be that the broad white supercilium continued as broad white stripes on the mantle, giving the upperparts a decidedly frosty appearance.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2008


    I was thinking about this a year or so ago and after looking at online shots of a lot of treecreepers in various UK counties came to the conclusion that birds in counties along the east coast were more likely to show some of the characters of northern treecreeper than treecreepers along the west coast. At the time I wondered whether there was a cline across UK. Anyway, it certainly discouraged me from going to try and find northern treecreeper here in SE Scotland.


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