Saturday, November 18, 2006


The Ovenbird, Seiurus aurocapillus, is a small songbird of the New World warbler family.

Ovenbirds are 14 cm long and weigh 18 g. They have white underparts streaked with black, and olive-brown upperparts. They have a white eye ring, pinkish legs and a thin pointed bill. They have an orange line on the top of the crown bordered on each side with dark brown.

Their breeding habitat is mature deciduous and mixed forests, especially sites with less undergrowth, across Canada and the eastern United States. The nest, the "oven", is a domed structure placed on the ground, woven from vegetation and with a side entrance. Both parents feed the young birds.

Ovenbirds migrate to the southeastern United States, the West Indies,and from Mexico to northern South America.

This bird seems just capable of crossing the Atlantic, since there have been a handful of records in Norway, Ireland and Great Britain, but half of the six finds were of dead birds. A live Ovenbird on St Mary's, Isles of Scilly in October 2004 had to be taken into care.

They forage on the ground in dead leaves, sometimes hovering or catching insects in flight. This bird frequently tilts its tail up while walking. These birds mainly eat insects, spiders and snails, also seeds in winter.

The song of the Ovenbird is a loud teacher-teacher-teacher. The syllables can also be reversed, producing the pattern erteach-erteach-erteach. The call is a dry chut.

The Ovenbird is vulnerable to nest parasitism by the Brown-headed Cowbird, but its numbers appear to be stable.