Cormobates placens

General description: 

Papuan Treecreeper

Other common names: New Guinea Treecreeper

Taxonomy: Climacteris placens P. L. Sclater, 1874, Hatam, Arfak Mountains, New Guinea.

Conservation status: 

Not Threatened

Diagnostic description: 

Male nominate race has dark brown crown with illdefined pale buff steaks; hindneck to rump and tertials dull brownish- olive, uppertail- coverts as mantle or greyer; upperwing darker than mantle, with rufous- buff bar across remiges, and with secondaries and inner primaries broadly tipped pale brown; tail olive to grey with blackish subterminal spot, outer feathers dark olive to brownish- black with broad pale grey or buff tips; throat whitish, merging into buffy grey on upper breast, more ochraceous on belly, flanks dark brownish- grey with buff streaking, lower abdomen spotted buff, undertailcoverts barred dark brown to black; iris blood- red to red- brown; bill black to greyish- black, basal half of lower mandible whitish; legs greyish- yellow to olive. Female differs from  male in having conspicuous rusty- orange cheek patch, throat light buffy grey, lower abdomen with larger, black- bordered ochraceous- buff steaks. Immature resembles adult; young female differs from adult female to having abdomen heavily mottled with ochraceous buff and black. Racers differ mainly in plumage; steini is similar to nominate, but more dark greyish- olive above; inexpectata resembles previous, but forehead streaks more  sharply defined, rump and uppertail- covers pure grey, tail grayer, underparts paler; meridionalis is browner  above than last, more strongly ochraceous on belly.


VOICE: A mellow series off 5- 10 flute- like or bell- like notes, slowly ascending in pitch, with final note sustained; a gradually descending trill similar to that of Chestnut- breasted Cuckoo (Cacomantis castaneiventris); and a faint nasal triplet, “chu chee chu“.


14.5 cm; 12- 19.5 g


Taxonomy: Climacteris placens P. L. Sclater, 1874, Hatam, Arfak Mountains, New Guinea. Genus previously merged into Climacteris, but differs in structure (bill shape, leg length, sole pads, skull, secondaries), egg coloration, plumage (juvenile characteristics, sexual dimorphism) and behaviour; generic separation  corroborated by molecular evidence. Genus name originally combined with feminine adjectives, so deemed to  be feminine. Forms a superspecies with C. leucophaea, and has in the past been treated as conspecific. There has been no recent taxonomic revision of this species, and distributional limits are uncertain.

Four subspecies traditionally recognized.


Subspecies and Distribution:

  • placens (P. L. Sclater, 1874) - Vogelkop (Tamrau Mts, Arfak Mts), in NW New Guinea.
  • steini (Mayr, 1936) - W & C New Guinea from Weyland Mts E east through Hindenburg Range to Tari Gap area.
  • inexpectata (Rand, 1940) - Snow Mts, in WC New Guinea.
  • meridionalis (E. J. O. Hartert, 1907) - mountains of SE New Guinea (E from Aseki area, Mt Kaindi and Herzog Mts).

Lower to upper montane rainforest, from 1250 m to 2600 m; also subalpine forest at up to 3000 m in Snow Mts (race inspectiata).

Trophic strategy: 

Insectivorous, but no details. Forages mostly in milddle to upper levels, but sometimes close to the ground.  Climbs jerkily up and around tree trunks, then swoops down to lower level whereupon in immediatelystarts climbing again. Usually seen singly, but occasionally in pairs and family parties.


No information

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith