Tree creepers and peanuts

The tree creeper was looking for insects in the moss and joins of the edging.

The tree creeper was looking for insects in the moss and joins of the edging.


Its long bill is ideal for searching cracks in trees and even, in this case, moss

Its long bill is ideal for searching cracks in trees and even, in this case, moss

I read a tweet on Twitter (see how modern I am for a 65-year old) recently where the question was asked if tree creepers eat peanuts. The tweeter (not the twit) was surprised that he had never seen a tree creeper on his peanut feeder. I responded that I regularly saw a tree creeper on peanut butter that I used to put in cracks in my larch trees. At least this was until it became far too expensive, the birds eating a £6 jar of salt and sugar-free peanut butter in as many days, in addition to their other expensive meals. I can’t prove that the tree creeper was actually eating the peanut butter, though I can see no other reason for its regular visits there.

This week a tree creeper has been a regular visitor to the birds’ peanut feeder. I’ve watched it through the binoculars and it appears to be pecking at the peanuts. These visits last several minutes; much longer than a tree creeper ever remains in one place when it is searching for food. In legalese I can conclude on the balance of probabilities (though not beyond reasonable doubt) that tree creepers from time to time eat peanuts.

I’ve had great difficulty in getting a half-decent photo of a tree creeper. Invariably the wee devil hops round the back of the tree just as the button is about to be pressed. I did manage one long-distance photo of a tree creeper at the peanut butter a couple of months ago, however I was afforded a better opportunity yesterday. I had fed the birds at the front of the house, and there was a good attendance of chaffinches, bramblings, greenfinches and coal tits. A tree creeper suddenly appeared and began to search for insects along the mossy kerb at the edge of the drive. This was just perfect for photographing as there was nowhere for it to hide!  I took some photos through the window, and as it came further down the drive I opened the front door slightly to get some photos unfettered by double-glazing. It was the most obliging wee bird, and these will probably be as good pics as I get of a tree creeper with my pocket camera.

The fat balls seem to have been largely deserted by the birds lately, with their main visitor being a robin. Even for this one bird they are well worth keeping in place.

One of the red squirrels was indulging in strange behaviour the other day. It was writhing about on the ground in the manner I’ve seen stoats and weasels doing when they are trying to mesmerise a rabbit. In fact at first I thought that I was watching a stoat. When I realised it was indeed the squirrel I wondered if it had become tangled in something and was trying to free itself. This contorted behaviour took probably between 30 and 60 seconds, before the squirrel resumed its business of searching for buried nuts as if nothing had happened.

The two squirrels now have short bursts of chasing each other round a tree trunk, or up and down a tree, but I’m not convinced yet it is the mating behaviour these lovely wee creatures exhibit. I am still looking forward to witnessing this. We also have a pair of tawny owl visiting most nights, their kee-wick, kee-wick and hooooooooooo; hoo,hoo,hoo, hooooooooo are a treat to listen to. I should have had a nesting box up for them. I’ll put that on my list for next year…………..

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One Response to Tree creepers and peanuts

  1. John Ballantyne (G8AKF) says:

    Hello Alan,

    Thanks for the information on your tree creeper eating peanut butter for birds.
    Today, for the first time ever, I have seen a tree creeper eating ‘flutter butter’ from a feeding jar on our silver birch tree. Earlier I had seen it searching it’s way up the tree for insects, as you would expect. Then I saw it on the peanut butter. It stayed on the jar for some time plunging it’s beak into the butter time and time again.
    I could not find any information in our bird books suggesting that tree creepers eat anything but insects. So I used the giant encyclopaedia often referred to as ‘the web’ and enlisted the assistance of Mr. Google. He directed me towards your blog.

    I managed to get several photographs of him on the jar but the light level was so low that all are suffering from camera shake. I ended with two half passable pics, one on the jar and the other on the trunk of the silver birch.
    If you would like to see them then just send me an email.

    Best wishes to you from near Norwich in Norfolk (from someone who is half Norfolk Dumpling and half Glaswegian), John Ballantyne.

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