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Salpornis spilonotus (Spotted creeper) 

Boomkruiper [Afrikaans]; Gevlekte boomkruiper [Dutch]; Grimpereau tacheté [French]; Fleckenbaumläufer, Stammsteiger [German]; Trepadeira-malhada [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Certhiidae

Salpornis spilonotus (Spotted creeper)   

Spotted creeper, Ethiopia. [photo Kristian Svensson ©]


Distribution and habitat

Occurs in India and sub-Saharan Africa, where its population is distributed in patches from Senegal to Ethiopia south to southern Africa. Here it is generally uncommon in Zimbabwe and central Mozambique, preferring the mid and lower canopy of climax miombo (Brachystegia) and munondo (Julbernardia) woodland, rarely moving into other broad-leaved woodland types.

Distribution of Spotted creeper in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).


It eats arthropods taken from crevices in the bark of trees, working its way from the base up the trunk in a spiral-like movement and often joining mixed-species foraging flocks. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest is a high-walled, open cup built of grass, hairy flower stalks, leaf petioles, lichen, bark and chips, secured with spider web and cottony plant material. It is typically placed 3-12 metres above ground in an upright forked branch or horizontal branch, well camouflaged especially from below.
  • Egg-laying season is from August-October, peaking during September.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female, who is fed daily by the male.
  • The chicks are brooded by both parents, and are fed on a diet of mainly caterpillars and moths.


Fragmentation of miombo (Brachystegia) woodland in Zimbabwe is cause for concern.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

  • Harrison, J.A., Allan, D.G., Underhill, L.G., Herremans, M., Tree. A.J., Parker, V. & Brown, C.J. (eds). 1997. The atlas of southern African birds. Vol. 2: Passerines. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.