Bar-tailed Treecreeper

Bar-tailed Treecreeper    Certhia  himalayana


  • Certhia : Greek word kerthiossmall tree-dwelling insect-eating bird mentioned by Aristotle
  • Himalayana: From Himalayas 

Vernacular names :Kash: Koel dider, Pun: Rukhcharhi

 Distribution in India: Resident of Western Himalayas and Arunachal Pradesh in India.

Description:  Size of 14 cm; Wt. of 7·8–10·3 g. It has a dull plumage lacking strong rufous tones, but has well-defined dark bars on tail, and longest bill in genus. The nominate race in fresh plumage has dark drab brown crown, nape and centre of upper mantle, feathers with slightly paler shaft streaks on nape and blackish-brown fringes giving mottled effect. The  lores, cheek and ear-coverts are dark brown, long thin buff-white supercilium and extending on to side of mantle due to very pale feather centres; feathers of lower mantle and scapulars have whitish centres, fine warm brown subterminal markings and fine blackish-brown fringes. The feathers of back and rump are dull cinnamon-orange with light olive-brown tips; uppertail-coverts are light olive-brown, faintly barred and darker. The upperwing-coverts are dark brown, lesser coverts and medians are tipped buff-white. The inner greater coverts are pale buff shafts with dull buff-white tips. The alula and primary coverts are dark brown, feathers of alula tipped dirty white on outer web. The tertials are medium-brown, barred dark brown, outer webs with subterminal dark brown spot and whitish tip. The secondaries are drab brown, slightly warmer on outer feathers, with dark subterminal band and off-white tip, dark brown central portion and base separated by pale orange-buff band. The primaries are medium brown, drab brown on distal part of outer webs. The tail is medium drab brown with narrow dark brown bars and pale rufous-brown shaft. The chin, throat and centre of upper breast creamy white, sides of neck and breast are washed pale buff. The lower breast, upper flanks and belly very pale drab-buff, rear flanks and thighs to undertail-coverts are pale drab brown. In worn plumage crown and nape look more distinctly streaked and warm tones on mantle and scapulars are lost, underparts are paler and whiter. The iris is dark brown; upper mandible is dark horn-brown to blackish, lower mandible pale fleshy with brown tip; It is distinguished from all congeners by thin blackish bars on tail.  Both the sexes are similar, male on average slightly longer-billed than female. The Juvenile is as adult but feather centres of forehead to nape are larger, browner and less distinct, giving more mottled appearance.

Habitat: It is found in  forests of pine ,spruce, cedar and fir, peach \ and apricot orchards, and rhododendron juniper and birch at high altitudes, It breeds at 1800–3660 m and in winter from 2100 m down to plains level although some remain as high as 2400 m; E populations occur to 4000 m in summer and down to 650 m in winter.

Food habits:It eats insects, spiders and other small invertebrates; occasionally also seeds. It forages on tree trunks and boughs, sometimes among outer foliage, using fine bill to extract prey from cracks and crevices .It works upwards in hops, spiralling around trunk, and then flies to bottom of another tree and repeats process. Occasionally forages on ground and stone walls; sometimes flycatches.

Breeding habits: They breed in Apr–Jun in open coniferous forest and forest edge. In C Asia, N Afghanistan and W Pakistan favours mature juniper forest; in E Afghanistan, N Pakistan, W Himalayas and S Chin .The nest is built by both sexes over period of. 14 days. The nest is a loose construction of bark fragments, twigs, dry grass, moss etc., lined with fur, hair and feathers, placed from near . They also nest in crack or crevice or occasionally in old woodpecker excavation; as cavity may be large, twigs are dropped in until some are wedged in to form base and variable but sometimes considerable accumulation of material can result. The lay a clutch of 4–6 eggs. The incubation is done by female alone. It is fed on nest by male. The incubation period is 13–14 days and the chicks tended by both sexes, nestling period is 21 days.