BIRD OF THE WEEK: 8/22/2014
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Seiurus aurocapilla
POPULATION: 22 million
HABITAT: Breeding: mature forests of North America; Winter: mixed forests of south U.S., South America, and Caribbean
The Ovenbird gets its name from its unique nest, which looks like a domed oven. This inconspicuous, ground-nesting warbler is best-known for its emphatic and distinctive song—a series of progressively louder phrases often described as “teacher, teacher, teacher."
Like the Wood Thrush and Kentucky, Cerulean, and Worm-eating Warblers, Ovenbirds require undisturbed expanses of forest for successful breeding. Although more flexible in habitat requirements on their wintering grounds, Ovenbirds and other Neotropical migratory species benefit from habitat conservation in these regions as well.
Ovenbirds spend much of their time walking (never hopping) along the forest floor, where they forage through the leaf litter for insects, spiders, snails, worms, and even small lizards. Since they nest on the ground, habitat fragmentation makes them especially vulnerable to brood parasites such as Brown-headed Cowbirds, and nest predators such as raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels, and snakes.
Neotropical migrants, including Ovenbirds, face a gauntlet of threats as they migrate; large numbers are killed by collisions with buildings and communications towers, and feral and free-ranging pet cats kill many others. Wintering Ovenbirds find refuge at Guatemala's Sierra Caral Reserve and Nicaragua's El Jaguar Reserve, both supported by ABC.
ABC and partners continue to work towards solutions, such as our Migratory Bird Program, that will keep Ovenbirds and other migrants returning each spring.