OVENBIRD – (Seiurus aurocapilla)
The Ovenbird is a rather large wood warbler, at approximately 15 cm (6 in.) long. Because of its appearance and size, and habit of foraging on the forest ground, it may be confused with a thrush. The upper parts are brown with a tinge of olive, and the under parts are white with black streaks. There’s a white eye ring as well.
The genus Latin name ‘Seiurus’ is from ancien Greek and means ‘to shake’, and ‘tail’, referring to the bird’s behavior when foraging. The Latin species name ‘aurocapilla’ means ‘yellow hair’.
The ovenbird owes its name to the shape of its nest, which looks like an old-fashioned outdoor oven. The nest is built on the ground with a side entrance. In spite of being well camouflaged, it can be predated upon by chipmunks for example, and Brown-headed Cowbirds are known to lay their eggs in ovenbirds’ nests.
Ovenbirds are known for their loud songs – relative to their size. They forage for insects and other invertebrates on the forest floor, but also on tree trunks. They can also catch insects on the fly.
The ovenbird breeds on PEI and is common on the island in spring and summer, but its occurrence in the fall varies from uncommon to fairly common, depending on the years. Its whole breeding range covers the forests of Canada and of the eastern part of the USA. Ovenbirds winter in Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. Vagrants have been recorded in Europe.