Wallcreeper on a barren rock in Turkey

Anyone who discovers a Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria) flapping and climbing up a rock face is immediately enchanted by its beauty. With the jerky spreading of the crimson bright wide wings, he resembles a butterfly.

Unmistakably, the Wallcreeper climbs up the vertical rocks and keeps flashing its bright red feathers. The Wallcreeper is usually difficult to spot – because it lives in inaccessible heights in the high mountains, such as the Alps or the Caucasus. With its thin, long beak, it is particularly good at poking insects and spiders out of rock cracks and holes. This is also important for survival, because it spends most of its time in barren rocky landscapes. There it also breeds on vertical rock faces or steep gorges.

In winter, from November to March, some Wallcreepers leave their breeding grounds in the mountains and stay at lower altitudes, occasionally in quarries or on house walls. Specimens have been admired far to the north, almost in the North German lowlands.

Its flapping flight style is striking. It hops from ledge to ledge, only momentarily opening its wings and flashing its crimson plumage. Its slate-grey plumage offers excellent privacy when sitting. The bird is then very inconspicuous. On the other hand, if the Wallcreeper moves, it is conspicuous; its locomotion is reminiscent of the scurrying of mice.

The birds do evasive movements in winter. The Wallcreeper then leaves its nesting rocks and moves to lower altitudes. During this time it can also be observed on buildings, dams or quarries.

The distribution area of the Wallcreeper extends from the European mountains to China. In the Alps, the approx. 17 centimeter large bird usually breeds at an altitude of 1,500 m to 2,000 m above sea level (asl). In the Caucasus, it appears to be found at even higher altitudes. We were able to observe it in the Yedigöllen crater area at a good 3,000 m asl and at the Ovit Dağı pass at approx. 2,400 m asl.

The plumage of the two sexes is very similar. Only during the breeding season does the male differ from the female with a deep black throat. The fluttering bird is diurnal and solitary, so multiple specimens are rarely seen outside of the breeding season.

The landscape of north-east Turkey is breathtaking. Alpine peaks, mountain forests and alpine meadows alternate. A historic Silk Road crossing once ran nearby over the Ovit Pass in the Kaçkar Mountains. This unique, mountainous part of the Turkish Black Sea coast has a lack of large hotels, noisy crowds or developed ski slopes in addition to nature.

The area around Sivrikaya in the Pontic Mountains of Rize province has two very special species in addition to the distribution area of the Wallcreeper. The Caucasian Grouse (Tetrao mlokosiewiczi) could also be observed and photographed nearby. The Caspian Snowcock (Tetraogallus caspius) also occurs here.

To meet the growing demand for beautiful images of the rarer species of the Palearctic, Bird-lens.com has made targeted trips to remote locations. This to do everything possible to ensure excellent photos of the birds of the western Palearctic. The yield of images from rare West Palearctic birds is very good. There are other beautiful bird pictures that you can find under the “Picture Shop” tab. Just let me know if you need a picture of a bird that isn’t online.



  1. Hello
    I am planning to visit Turkey in January, and hoping I might catch up with a wallcreeper… Are there any winter haunts worth checking?

    1. Hi, thanks for the comment. yes, the historic Silk Road crossing over the Ovit Pass in the Kaçkar Mountains should be checked. This unique, mountainous part of the Turkish Black Sea coast especially the area around Sivrikaya in the Pontic Mountains of Rize is perfect. There might be snow in January, but areas further down this regulary travelled road (to the south) should be checked with care. Good birding..

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