Sichuan Treecreeper Certhia tianquanensis


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a moderately small range within which it occurs in a number of strictly protected areas. It is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is unknown, but reported threats to the species would not indicate that there is likely to be an ongoing continuing decline despite the species restricted habitat requirements. Consequently it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified and research into the true population size is needed. However it is believed that the population considerably exceeds the thresholds for listing as Vulnerable under the small population criteria, and as it is now known that the species is fairly widespread in the high altitude reserves of the Sichuan arc, the largest subpopulation is likely to exceed thresholds for listing as Vulnerable should there be evidence for a continuing decline. Consequently the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
Although the population size of this species remains uncalculated, it has been suggested that it could be widespread in high altitude reserves of the Sichuan arc (B. Anderson in litt. 2016). The species has recently been discovered in areas outside of its previously known range (Rheindt 2004). Data from citizen science platforms have further expanded known occurrences of this species (eBird 2019). While previously estimated to have a population size of about 700 mature individuals, it is likely that this number is in fact much higher.

Trend justification
The population trend is unknown, but there do not appear to be imminent threats with the potential to be driving ongoing declines in the 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 is now known to likely occur throughout this mountain range having been found at Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve, some 200 km north of the previously known range (Rheindt 2004), 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)


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. However current deforestation is minimal and 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 (Harrap 2017). 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). However, the species' main habitat, Alpine conifer >2,000 m, is a type of forest that is protected and not exploited commercially (S. Francis in litt. 2016) and the species occurs in several strictly protected areas.

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
Benstead, P., Khwaja, N., Mahood, S., Westrip, J., Elliott, N.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Certhia tianquanensis. Downloaded from on 28/05/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/05/2020.