Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus)

Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus)

The Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) is a bird of order Passeriformes, genus Seiurus and species aurocapillus. It is in the New World Wood Warblers Family (Parulidae). The species name means gold-headed in Latin and refers to this bird's orange-brown color on the top of its head. The genus name is from the Latin "separated from." The Ovenbird is the only member of this genus, whence its genus name, because it evolved separately from the rest of the family. The order name is Passeriformes (sparrow-like). This bird is elusive but is frequently heard in dry, deciduous forests. The American poet Robert Frost wrote a poem titled, "The Oven Bird," in his collection Mountain Interval. The poem was inspired by the Ovenbird's song. This song is a series of "tea-chur" sounds with the emphasis on "tea." The photograph above was taken in 2011 on Beech Mountain in Acadia National Park. The Ovenbird is heard but seldom seen around French Hill Pond. It stays camouflaged among the branches and foliage of deciduous trees. The Ovenbird flies south in the fall and is, therefore, not seen or heard in late fall and winter on Mount Desert Island.

It is small, about six inches (15 centimeters) long. The upper parts of an Ovenbird are olive-brown. The breast and under parts are white with streaks of black most prominent towards the front. It has a distinctive white eye ring. The crown of its head is orange-brown outlined in black. This crown is not visible in the photograph above because the bird is immature. The olive-brown feathers still cover the crown. However, immature Ovenbirds can expose the crown by raising it. The lower part of the cheek has a black stripe as seen in the photograph. Note that the upper part of the sharp beak is dark but the lower part of the beak is lighter in color and the legs are pink. These characteristics set the Ovenbird apart from other sparrow-like birds.

The nest of the Ovenbird resembles a small Dutch oven on the ground. It is constructed of vegetation and has a side entrance. This oven-nest design is the origin of the bird's common name. The female will lay four to five brown-spotted eggs. Both parents will feed the young. Their food consists of arthropods (insects, arachnids and crustaceans) and fruit.

Chipmunks and similar animals may prey on Ovenbirds because their nests are on the ground. The Brown-headed Cowbird will sometimes occupy an Ovenbird's nest. Ovenbirds are very good long-distance flyers and have been known to cross the Atlantic Ocean but have not established themselves in Europe. They will fly long distances in flocks but are otherwise solitary.

Birds of French Hill Pond Fauna of French Hill Pond French Hill Pond Home Page