Sichuan Treecreeper Certhia tianquanensis


Justification of Red List Category
This fairly recently described species is listed as Near Threatened as it has a moderately small range, within which habitat quality may be declining. However its distribution and abundance are still poorly known.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number fewer than 1,000 individuals, roughly equivalent to 700 mature individuals; although it has been suggested that it could be widespread in high altitude reserves of Sichuan (B. Anderson in litt. 2016).

Trend justification
Habitat loss and degradation are likely to be causing a slow to moderate population decline in this species.

Distribution and population

Certhia tianquanensis was previously thought to occupy a relatively small range in China, with records from just five clustered localities in the mountains west of Chengdu and Leshan: Labahe Natural Reserve, Tianquin County; Dayi County; Shuanghe town, Ebian County; Wawu Shan, Hongya County, and Wujipung, Wolong Biosphere Reserve (Anderson 2003, Martins et al. 2003). However, it was recently discovered at Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve, some 200 km north of the previously known range (Rheindt 2004). Subsequently, the species has also been reported at nearby Taibaishan (B. Anderson in litt. 2005), and the Quinling Mountains, Shaanxi (M. Rank in litt. 2005, B. Anderson in litt. 2016); as well as Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve (B. Anderson in litt. 2016, S. Francis in litt. 2016), Wanglang Nature Reserve and Hailuogou Glacier Park, Sichuan (S. Francis in litt. 2016). Within this area, it is often regarded as uncommon and it may also be patchily distributed because it seems to be confined to stands of old conifers (Emei fir Abies fabri), but it has probably been much overlooked (Rheindt 2004). Still, the only certainly viable population exists at Wawu Shan (Yue-Hua Sun 2009).


This poorly-known treecreeper appears to be a relict species breeding in open stands of old-growth Emei fir (Abies fabri) at high altitude (2,500-2,830 m). It forages for invertebrates in the upper storey of large trees by creeping along branches and trunks. Appears to undertake localised altitudinal migrations in the winter (dropping down to at least 1,600 m). It nests in May and June, using cracks in the stems of dead firs (Yue-Hua Sun 2009).


Intensive logging of primary coniferous forests in the last century, even at high altitudes in the mountains of western China, has seriously reduced the potential range of this species. The Wawu Shan table mountain has steep slopes which are inaccessible to lumberjacks in the absence of extensive road construction, but it is not yet formally protected, and there are plans to open up the regions for tourism by building a cable railway. Climate change could prove to be a future threat (S. Francis in litt. 2016), while forest fires could also threaten the species (S. Francis in litt. 2016).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Two of the known sites are within protected areas - Labahe Natural Reserve and Wolong Biosphere Reserve.

Conservation Actions Proposed
* Conduct surveys to establish its true distribution and status, especially on the Wawu Shan. *Campaign for protected area designation for the Wawu Shan. *List it as a protected species in China.


12 cm. A long-tailed, short-billed treecreeper. Underparts brownish apart from white chin and throat. Similar spp. Two other treecreepers occur within the range of this species, none show its combination of long tail, short bill, and underpart colouration. Voice Song consists of a brief, high frequency trill, which rises of falls in pitch.


Text account compilers
Khwaja, N., Benstead, P., Westrip, J., Mahood, S.

Anderson, B., Yang, L., Rheindt, F., Francis, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Certhia tianquanensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 14/11/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 14/11/2019.