Found in neotropical forests, woodcreepers are a family of mainly arboreal birds. The most species forage in the trees in a similar way to woodpeckers. Like woodpeckers, woodcreepers have evolved strong, pointed tails, which they use to brace against trees as they climb, and stong legs and feet to aid in hitching up trees trunks.
Most species are arboreal, flying from tree to tree and using a variety of foraging strategies. A number of species regularly join mixed-species foranging flocks; some other species are regular visitors to army ant swarms, and use a similar technique to capture prey flushed by the ants.
These birds can be difficult to identify in that they tend to have similar brown upperparts, and the more distinctive underparts are hard to see on a bird pressed against a trunk in deep forest shade. The bill shape, extend/shape of spots/streaks, and call are useful aids to determining species.
The woodcreepers are generally forest birds of Central and South America. Most species occur in rainforests, with the centre of diversity of the subfamily being the Amazon Basin. As many as 19 species of woodcreeper may co-occur in some areas of the Amazon, although in other rainforests, such as those in Costa Rica, the numbers are much lower. Other habitats used by the woodcreepers include pine-oak woodland, montane cloud forest, and pine forests. A few species, like the scimitar-billed woodcreeper, inhabit savannah or other partly open environments. Of the 50 species represented in the family Costa Rica has 18 of them.