Wallcreeper (Birds)






Tichodroma muraria


• Its gray plumage appears drab until it opens its wings to reveal a bold red and white pattern
• Flicks its colorful wings while ascending steep rock faces to search for insects and spiders
• Leads a solitary life except for the breeding season; then both sexes feed and protect the young


Found in central and southern Europe, including Spain, France, Austria, Italy, Germany, Poland, Albania and Greece, east across Asia to Mongolia and western China


The wallcreeper is an extremely elusive bird that dwells on steep mountain cliffs, where it hides its nest in a secure rock crevice, far out of reach from larger predators.


From rocky riverbeds to clay cliffs, boulder-strewn slopes to stone cathedrals, the wallcreeper calls a variety of precipitous places home — but the bird’s favorite haunts are limestone hills and jagged cliffs. True to its name, the wallcreeper inhabits walls of all sorts, including those made by man, such as castles, tunnels and large bridges. In its natural habitat, the bird prefers steep, mountainous regions in the spring and summer months, choosing rock that is partially covered with plants. It descends to mountain villages in the winter, where it searches the walls of stone buildings and other crevices for food.
True to its name An extremely agile wallcreeper clings to a steep rock face with its long, sharp toes.
 True to its name An extremely agile wallcreeper clings to a steep rock face with its long, sharp toes.
In France there is a winter tour designed specifically to find the wallcreeper in the Les Alpilles, after the birds descend from their breeding grounds in the high Alps. Les Alpilles is well known for its limestone hills, the wallcreeper’s favorite.
The principality of Andorra is a rather small country, only 182 sq. miles in area, located between France and Spain. In June 1981, a special wallcreeper stamp was issued as part of the country’s Nature Protection series.


The wallcreeper expertly climbs up steep rock faces in its quest for insects and spiders.The bird carefully examines every crevice; it ascends the cliffs with short wing flicks, methodically investigating every crack. It ferrets out the invertebrates with its long, sleek bill and extracts them with its forked tongue. The wallcreeper then flits, butterflylike, down to the bottom of another face and begins again. In rainy weather, when the steep cliffs are slippery, the bird often forages along streams or among the pebbles and rocks at the base of the cliffs. It explores underneath every stone, but it is rarely seen in trees.


The wallcreeper is almost constantly in motion. On steep rock faces, the bird characteristically flicks its wings half-open like a butterfly; mountaineers call the wallcreeper the butterfly bird. Juveniles begin this flicking habit as soon as they are able to fly.The wallcreeper flicks its wings faster when excited, but if an aerial predator approaches, the bird often freezes, hoping to blend with its gray plumage into the rocky background.
When moving from one precipice to another; the wallcreeper flies high across mountain valleys or over passes. On cliffs or buildings, the bird uses a hopping gait to traverse the steep surface. The wallcreeper prefers to live alone; it joins others only during the breeding season, and even then, pairs remain 0.5-1.25 miles apart from other pairs. Throughout the year, the birds defend feeding territories; disputes may be prolonged and include aerial fights, where the bird emits a chuit dweeoo call and other whistles.
Frequent flyer When not creeping, the bird prefers to fly.


 Starting point
Starting point…
A wallcreeper flashes its brilliant, crimson-patterned wings as it flies toward a steep rock face.
Hop along...
Hop along…
The agile bird hops between rocks, searching for a new nook with tasty insects.
 In between
In between…
The wallcreeper disappears into a rock crevice; its long, curved bill helps it delve deep after food.
 Mission complete
Mission complete
The successful wallcreeper exits the crevice with a large caterpillar trapped in its bill.


At the start of the breeding season in the spring, the wallcreeper usually ascends to higher altitudes, seeking its favored limestone cliffs.The male executes display flights, designed to show off his dazzling red wings. He also “dances” for the female, circling her with his wings spread, tail moving up and down and head shaking back and forth. Once paired, the two build their cup-shaped nest made of grass, moss and rootlets in a crevice, boulder pile or behind a rock. It may also be placed in the wall of a building or pipe if natural sites are not available.The female lays 3-5 white eggs that are mottled with dark-red to black speckles. She incubates alone, but the male brings her food during the 18-20 day incubation period.The hatch-lings grow quickly; both parents feed and protect the young. The chicks fledge within 3-4 weeks, but remain with the parents for another 5-6 days, after which time they are fully independent and search for their own rocky terrain.
 Hold tight The wallcreeper seeks out rocky crevices where it can conceal its nest of grass.
Hold tight The wallcreeper seeks out rocky crevices where it can conceal its nest of grass.


The wallcreeper is not globally threatened, though its wary nature makes it a hard bird to observe. Its ability to adapt to a variety of steep habitats — from cliffs in mountainous regions or seashores to the faces of gorges, quarries and even castles and cathedrals — contributes to its success, but it is uncommon throughout its range due to its solitary behavior.



Aptly nicknamed the “rock flower” in China, the wallcreeper masterfully climbs rock walls while opening its wings to reveal beautiful red markings.


The treecreeper (Certia familiaris) measures up to 5″ and is smaller than the wallcreeper; The treecreeper’s plumage is a rich pattern of dark and rufous brown mixed with white, whereas the wallcreeper’s base plumage has shades of gray with bright red dominating the wings; The treecreeper climbs up trees in a spiral, searching for insects and spiders, using its stiffened tail feathers for balance; The wallcreeper ascends cliff faces in a similar quest for concealed invertebrates, but does not use its shorter tail for support. Both species are found throughout Europe and Asia.

0.5-0.7 oz.
Length 6.25-6.5″
Sexual Maturity About 1 year
Breeding Season April-July, depending on the region
Number of Eggs 3-5
Incubation Period 18-20 days
Fledging Period 3-4 weeks
Breeding Interval 1 year
Typical Diet Insects and their larvae; also spiders and centipedes
Lifespan Unknown


• The wallcreeper is the 1 only species in its genus, Tichodroma, and its j family, Tichodromadidae. There are two subspecies, T. m. nepalensis, j found in Turkmenistan and eastern Iran east to China, and T. m. muraria, found in Europe east to northern and western ‘ Iran. The wallcreeper was once placed in the fam-I ily Sittidae, but was then classified in the subfamily Tichodrominae.

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