Black and White Creeper

This nimble and expert little species seldom perches on the small twigs; but circumambulates the trunk, and larger branches, in quest of ants and other insects, with admirable dexterity. It arrives in Pennsylvania, from the south, about the twentieth of April, the young begin to fly early in July; and the whole tribe abandon the country about the beginning of October. Sloane describes this bird as an inhabitant of the West India islands, where it probably winters. It was first figured by Edwards from a dried skin sent him by Mr. William Bartram, who gave it its present name. Succeeding naturalists have classed it with the warblers; a mistake which I have endeavored to rectify.

The genus of Creepers comprehends about thirty different species, many of which are richly adorned with gorgeous plumage; but, like their congenial tribe the Woodpeckers, few of them excel in song; their tongues seem better calculated for extracting noxious insects from the bark of trees, than for trilling out sprightly airs; as the hardened hands of the husbandman are better suited for clearing the forest or guiding the plough, than dancing among the keys of a forte-piano. Which of the two is the most honorable and useful employment is not difficult to determine. Let the farmer, therefore, respect this little bird for its useful qualities, in clearing his fruit and forest from destructive insects; though it cannot serenade him with its song.

Excerpted from American Ornithology, Volume 3, released in 1811.

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