Date: 1/12/18 6:40 pm
From: Nathaniel Wander <nw105...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) phylogeny
I didn't mean this as a game, let alone by Monty Python rules.

Sir Bedemere: “What do you do with witches?”

“Villagers: Burn ‘em!”

SB: “And what do you burn apart from witches?’

Vs: “More witches.” “Wood.”

SB: “So, why do witches burn?”

Vs:“Cause they’re made of wood?”

SB: “Good.  So how dowe tell whether she is made of wood?”

Vs: “Build a bridge out of her.”

SB: “But can you not build a bridge out of stone?”

Vs: “Uh, yeah.”

SB: “Does wood sink in water?”

Vs: “No.” “No.” “It floats.” “It floats.” “Throw her in the pond.”

SB: “What also floats in water?”

Vs: “Bread.”  “Apples.”“Very small rocks.” “Cider.” Grape gravy.” “Cherries.”  “Mud.” “Churches.” “Lead.”

King Arthur interjects authoritatively: “A duck!”

SB: “Exactly.  So,logically …?”

Vs: “If she weighs the same as a duck … she’s made of wood.”

SB: “And, therefore …?”

Vs: “A witch!”

Nathaniel Wander
Portland, OR
Max Planck is supposed to have said: A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and        making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die        and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.Andreas Wagner observed of Planck's remark: Science, like nature, advances one funeral at a time.  (Arrival of the Fittest, p.197)

On Friday, January 12, 2018, 5:50:58 PM PST, roger freeman <carrotguy55...> wrote:

Now, this is fun!
Roger Freeman 

On Friday, January 12, 2018, Robert O'Brien <baro...> wrote:

Oh boy.  Them's fightin' words....................
What I meant to say is that Brown Creeper is about the closest thing  _we have here_ to a woodpecker.  Of course, my statement was more general than that, but I'll still defend it.If there is something closer in Oregon/US to woodpeckers I want to learn what it is.
We don't have a whole lot of trunk-feeding birds here.  Off the top of my head we have woodpeckers,creepers, and nuthatches.  (Tits, kinglets, some warblers and maybe some others sometimes feed in trunk crevicesbut not habitually).  Woodpeckers and creepers have stiffened, elongated central feathers (as the roosting photo shows).  These are used in balancing these two families for their livesagainst vertical or flat surfaces, often or always against tree trunks. they roost in a similar fashion. Nuthatches do not have such tail feathers.  I'm not sure where they roost.
Woodpeckers have heads/bills adapted to pounding into softer wood while creepersdon't.  Woodpeckers usually have two toes forward and two behind while creepers have the usual3:1 structure.  Yet woodpeckers, especially the smaller ones, feed very often in bark crevices just as creepers do.While creepers don't excavate true holes as woodpeckers often do, they usually nest along tree trunksas well; usually under pieces of loose bark, but are not above nesting in existing cavities of a sort and even cleanthem out of debris or loose/rotted wood as woodpeckers do.
I didn't say they were phylogenetic (direct) descendents of woodpeckers or a common ancestor.There is evolution, and there is _convergent evolution_ of which I claimed the latter.  That is, they have evolved from different original families to occupy a similar habitat and lifestyleto another family's descendents.  (Cacti & euphorbias are totally unrelated family-wise, buthave evolved similar structures and habitats (succulent, drought tolerant, thorns, supressed or absent leaves, etc.).  Their different upbringing is given away by their totally different flowers, however.)
Another example.  Australia has no woodpeckers at all.  The closest thing that continent has is Riflebirds,specifically in my experience, Paradise Riflebird, a flicker-sized bird with a (very strong in this case)decurved bill like Brown Creeper's miniature bill.  It lacks the central, stiff tail feathers, it's tail more likea nuthatch.   Like Creepers, this species has no phylogenetic relationship to woodpeckers but has evolved similar habits such as foraging in rotting wood.
http://www.australianwildlife. org/wildlife/paradise- riflebird.aspx

The Wallcreeper of Eurasia has a similar clinging lifestyle as their name implies, but they alsolack the central tail feathers with tails like nuthatches to which they are sometimes thought to berelated.  They're still working on evolving that feature I guess.  They have no plans toevolve bills capable to boring into rocky cliffs, their preferred habitat.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Wallcreeper

So there (hee, hee; how do ya' like them apples?).
Bob


On Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 10:33 AM, Nathaniel Wander <nw105...> wrote:


While I’m guessing that Bob O’Brien offered the remark thatBrown Creepers were the “aboutthe closest thing that you can get to a woodpecker” in an act of kindness tolighten the mood and “spare the blushes” of an honest mis-identification, theyare, of course, nothing of the sort. Creepers (treecreepers in the Old World) are songbirds: they don’t looklike woodpeckers, they don’t behave like woodpeckers and they have no nearphylogenetic relationship to woodpeckers. Their one interesting connection to woodpeckers is that they compete withand defend territories against Redheaded Woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) in eastern North America.  Even still, they prefer arachnids to insectsand eat seeds in winter.


Brown Creepers’closest relatives are the as many as ten treecreeper species in Europe andAsia.  After that, they appear to be mostclosely related to gnatcatchers and are considered general kin to wrens—these speciescomprise the family Certhioidea.  Thereare thought to be about six to nine races of Brown Creepers in North America,not counting a few Mexican races that reach the mountains of Arizona and NewMexico.  The details of their relationshipshave been much debated.  In the past theNorth American birds have sometimes been divided into three or four discretespecies, sometimes even lumped with the Eurasian Treecreeper (C familiaris).  There was a proposal before the AOS lastspring to divide the present single New World species into a North Americanspecies (exclusive of the highland Arizona/New Mexico populations) and aMexican/Central American species (including highland Arizona/New Mexico populations)possibly to be named Nearctic Creeper and Neotropical Creeper respectively.  I can’t see that it has been voted on yet.


Otherwise, creepers feed on tree trunks by pokingbeneath bark flakes rather than boring holes like woodpeckers.  They are not cavity nesters, butweavers.  They communicate via highpitched calls and songs, not drumming and they are cryptically colored ratherthan boldly marked.  They take insectsbut prefer arachnids and, of course, their prey range is generally significantlysmaller than that of woodpeckers: I’ve found no evidence that they consume ants.


 It may be that Bob wasn’t genially joking, but was thinking ofwoodcreepers (Dendrocolaptinae) rather than creepers/treecreepers.  These 50-60 odd Central/S American forestbirds fall in the woodpecker size range and have some evolutionarily convergentfeatures with the latter including stiff tails which they use woodpecker-like asan important point of contact in shimmying up tree trunks.  Woodcreepers generally have heavy bills, butuse them for bark-probing like creepers/treecreepers rather than boring likewoodpeckers.  Their generally crypticcoloration is also sometimes said to be convergent with creepers/treecreepers.  Woodcreepers too are passerines, thoughsuboscines (like flycatchers) rather than ‘true’ oscine songbirds.  Suboscine songs are generally less complexthan those of oscine songbirds and typically are acquired genetically ratherthan learned.


Nathaniel WanderPortland, OR
Max Planck is supposed to have said: A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and        making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die        and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.Andreas Wagner observed of Planck's remark: Science, like nature, advances one funeral at a time.  (Arrival of the Fittest, p.197)


On Friday, January 12, 2018, 5:50:58 PM PST, roger freeman <carrotguy55...> wrote:

Now, this is fun!
Roger Freeman 

On Friday, January 12, 2018, Robert O'Brien <baro...> wrote:

Oh boy.  Them's fightin' words....................
What I meant to say is that Brown Creeper is about the closest thing  _we have here_ to a woodpecker.  Of course, my statement was more general than that, but I'll still defend it.If there is something closer in Oregon/US to woodpeckers I want to learn what it is.
We don't have a whole lot of trunk-feeding birds here.  Off the top of my head we have woodpeckers,creepers, and nuthatches.  (Tits, kinglets, some warblers and maybe some others sometimes feed in trunk crevicesbut not habitually).  Woodpeckers and creepers have stiffened, elongated central feathers (as the roosting photo shows).  These are used in balancing these two families for their livesagainst vertical or flat surfaces, often or always against tree trunks. they roost in a similar fashion. Nuthatches do not have such tail feathers.  I'm not sure where they roost.
Woodpeckers have heads/bills adapted to pounding into softer wood while creepersdon't.  Woodpeckers usually have two toes forward and two behind while creepers have the usual3:1 structure.  Yet woodpeckers, especially the smaller ones, feed very often in bark crevices just as creepers do.While creepers don't excavate true holes as woodpeckers often do, they usually nest along tree trunksas well; usually under pieces of loose bark, but are not above nesting in existing cavities of a sort and even cleanthem out of debris or loose/rotted wood as woodpeckers do.
I didn't say they were phylogenetic (direct) descendents of woodpeckers or a common ancestor.There is evolution, and there is _convergent evolution_ of which I claimed the latter.  That is, they have evolved from different original families to occupy a similar habitat and lifestyleto another family's descendents.  (Cacti & euphorbias are totally unrelated family-wise, buthave evolved similar structures and habitats (succulent, drought tolerant, thorns, supressed or absent leaves, etc.).  Their different upbringing is given away by their totally different flowers, however.)
Another example.  Australia has no woodpeckers at all.  The closest thing that continent has is Riflebirds,specifically in my experience, Paradise Riflebird, a flicker-sized bird with a (very strong in this case)decurved bill like Brown Creeper's miniature bill.  It lacks the central, stiff tail feathers, it's tail more likea nuthatch.   Like Creepers, this species has no phylogenetic relationship to woodpeckers but has evolved similar habits such as foraging in rotting wood.
http://www.australianwildlife. org/wildlife/paradise- riflebird.aspx

The Wallcreeper of Eurasia has a similar clinging lifestyle as their name implies, but they alsolack the central tail feathers with tails like nuthatches to which they are sometimes thought to berelated.  They're still working on evolving that feature I guess.  They have no plans toevolve bills capable to boring into rocky cliffs, their preferred habitat.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Wallcreeper

So there (hee, hee; how do ya' like them apples?).
Bob


On Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 10:33 AM, Nathaniel Wander <nw105...> wrote:


While I’m guessing that Bob O’Brien offered the remark thatBrown Creepers were the “aboutthe closest thing that you can get to a woodpecker” in an act of kindness tolighten the mood and “spare the blushes” of an honest mis-identification, theyare, of course, nothing of the sort. Creepers (treecreepers in the Old World) are songbirds: they don’t looklike woodpeckers, they don’t behave like woodpeckers and they have no nearphylogenetic relationship to woodpeckers. Their one interesting connection to woodpeckers is that they compete withand defend territories against Redheaded Woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) in eastern North America.  Even still, they prefer arachnids to insectsand eat seeds in winter.


Brown Creepers’closest relatives are the as many as ten treecreeper species in Europe andAsia.  After that, they appear to be mostclosely related to gnatcatchers and are considered general kin to wrens—these speciescomprise the family Certhioidea.  Thereare thought to be about six to nine races of Brown Creepers in North America,not counting a few Mexican races that reach the mountains of Arizona and NewMexico.  The details of their relationshipshave been much debated.  In the past theNorth American birds have sometimes been divided into three or four discretespecies, sometimes even lumped with the Eurasian Treecreeper (C familiaris).  There was a proposal before the AOS lastspring to divide the present single New World species into a North Americanspecies (exclusive of the highland Arizona/New Mexico populations) and aMexican/Central American species (including highland Arizona/New Mexico populations)possibly to be named Nearctic Creeper and Neotropical Creeper respectively.  I can’t see that it has been voted on yet.


Otherwise, creepers feed on tree trunks by pokingbeneath bark flakes rather than boring holes like woodpeckers.  They are not cavity nesters, butweavers.  They communicate via highpitched calls and songs, not drumming and they are cryptically colored ratherthan boldly marked.  They take insectsbut prefer arachnids and, of course, their prey range is generally significantlysmaller than that of woodpeckers: I’ve found no evidence that they consume ants.


 It may be that Bob wasn’t genially joking, but was thinking ofwoodcreepers (Dendrocolaptinae) rather than creepers/treecreepers.  These 50-60 odd Central/S American forestbirds fall in the woodpecker size range and have some evolutionarily convergentfeatures with the latter including stiff tails which they use woodpecker-like asan important point of contact in shimmying up tree trunks.  Woodcreepers generally have heavy bills, butuse them for bark-probing like creepers/treecreepers rather than boring likewoodpeckers.  Their generally crypticcoloration is also sometimes said to be convergent with creepers/treecreepers.  Woodcreepers too are passerines, thoughsuboscines (like flycatchers) rather than ‘true’ oscine songbirds.  Suboscine songs are generally less complexthan those of oscine songbirds and typically are acquired genetically ratherthan learned.


Nathaniel WanderPortland, OR
Max Planck is supposed to have said: A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and        making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die        and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.Andreas Wagner observed of Planck's remark: Science, like nature, advances one funeral at a time.  (Arrival of the Fittest, p.197)



 
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