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Bird ringing in Lewis

Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Treecreeper

Hebrides bird sightings - Treecreeper


(Eurasian Treecreeper)

Certhia familiaris

Gaelic: Snaigear

Photograph © Grahame Thompson
Stornoway Castle Grounds - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
17th October, 2006

Highlights of this ringing session were, Blackcap, Dunnock & this Treecreeper.

Also a Blue Tit which was 3 years and 9 months old, along with a Coal Tit at 3 years and 2 months old. They were both ringed as juveniles.


Grahame is one of two British Orinthological Society ringers on the Isle of Lewis, he does the East side. His usual areas are the Castle Grounds and Aiginish, plus a whole heap of other sites depending on time of year and species!


Our Treecreeper photographs



  • Treecreeper
  • Certhia familiaris
  • Gaelic: Snaigear
  • UK: 210,000 territories
  • WI: scarce resident breeder (1-9 breeding pairs), in Stornoway Castle Grounds. Very rare visitor (five or less records) outside of Lewis & Harris
  • Breeding: Twig nest built into the trunk of a tree. Lays 6 eggs ( white with brown spots). Resident: Europe, Asia. In autumn Treecreepers leave their breeding sites but most stay within 12miles/20 km
  • Habitat: Trunks of trees - forest, woodland
  • Diet: Insects, spiders (found in tree-trunk crevices). WInter also seeds of pine & spruce
  • Small (12-13cm) Sparrow-sized bird. Short neck. Long, slender, downcurved bill. Brown plumage above and is streaked & spotted. Underparts white. Brown rump (above tail). Long tail. In flight the Treecreeper has long, broad rounded wings which have a pale bar. In winter often joins flocks of other small birds - Blue Tits etc
  • Treecreepers live for up to 8 years.
  • Listen to a Treecreeper (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Short-toed Treecreeper (not on the Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)


Treecreepers favour coniferous woodland, they get their name from the way in which they feed.

An insect-eater, the Treecreeper also eats spiders, and in wintertime some seeds.
It has a long, downward-curving bill, perfect for the task of picking them out of the crevices in bark.

Starting at the base of a tree and quietly creeping upward in a jerky manner, a Treecreeper moves up the trunk following a spiralling a path upward then moves along the thicker branches searching for insects. It then flies down and starts the process again on another tree. A treecreeper has distinctive long toes which help it to grip the bark of a tree.


Treecreepers were 55% below usual productivity in 2007. This is their worst year on record.


Treecreeper records in the Western Isles

Certhia familiaris britannica is a scarce resident breeder (1-9 breeding pairs), in Stornoway Castle Grounds.
Very rare visitor (five or less records) outside of Lewis & Harris
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)

The chart below shows how abundant the Treecreeper is during a month or when you are more likely to see it.













(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)



In the Western Isles there was a peak of about 10 pairs in Stornoway Castle Grounds in 1966, since then they have declined in number, with only one or two sightings some years.

There are only about three records of Treecreepers anywhere in the Western Isles outside of the Stornoway Castle Grounds. One of them made a number of years ago, was a report of a Treecreeper feeding on Mingulay cliffs.

Additionally in October 2006 one was spotted in a garden in Gisla, on the Isle of Lewis.



Other local bird photographs

Sources of information for the bird sightings section

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