Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps

Family CLIMACTERIDAE Selys-Longchamps, 1839

Compiler and date details

Files of R. Schodde & I.J. Mason, 2001; updated and upgraded by N.W. Longmore, Museum Victoria, 2006


This is an old, polyphyletic, Gondwana group that is endemic to Australia and New Guinea (Christidis & Schodde 1991). Within the family, two genera are separable: Climacteris and Cormobates, represented by seven species; Cormobates placens is endemic to New Guinea. In Australia the six species are recognised as including 14 ultrataxa. The genera have their centre of distribution in Australia.

Cliamcterids are primarily scansorial, frequenting the trunks and limbs of living and dead trees and feeding primarily on Hymenoptera which they take by gleaning and probing. One species, the Brown Treecreeper, Climacteris picumnus, has adapted to a terrestrial life; the other five Australian species occasionally feed on the ground. Although usually in pairs or small family groups, occasionally they form small loose foraging parties. Habitat selection is divided between the taxa and only in the eastern forests is there a strong overlap of species. Cormobates is restricted to the well-forested eastern half of the continent whereas Climacteris is found throughout in areas of forest, woodland or acacia shrublands.

All Australian climacterid species nest in tree hollows or clefts of trees. The nest is a shallow cup and is formed by the accumulation of rotting debris, down, and leaves, and lined with feathers. Two or three eggs constitute a clutch. These are white or pale pink to salmon marked by brown or red spots, blotches and dots.



'Molecular data confirm that treecreepers are well-diverged from other Australian song-birds … The toes are not very only very long and [are] powerfully clawed on short scutellate tarsi but also hemi-syndactylous … specialised for trunk-climbing… In the syrinx, intrinsic musculature is markedly asymmetric, the syringeal aponeurosis is very weak, and most intrinsic muscles vary from the norm in points of attachment and are much thickened, completely enveloping the syringeal drum…'.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
12-Feb-2010 (import)