Photo: Glenn Bartley/Vireo

Ovenbird

Seiurus aurocapilla

In shady woods, this odd warbler walks with deliberate steps on the forest floor, holding its short tail cocked up higher than its back. Although it is not especially shy, its choice of habitat often makes it hard to observe; its ringing chant of teacher, teacher is heard far more often than the bird is seen. The name "Ovenbird" is a reference to the bird's nest, a domed structure with the entrance on the side, like an old-fashioned oven.
Conservation status Despite heavy parasitism by cowbirds in some areas, overall numbers seem to be holding up well.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat Near ground in leafy woods; in migration, thickets. Needs large tracts of mature deciduous or mixed forest for successful breeding. Will nest in a wide variety of forest types, as long as they have a closed canopy cover, large trees, and little ground cover. In winter (mostly in tropics), lives in forests and thickets, from dry lowlands to wet forests in the foothills.
In shady woods, this odd warbler walks with deliberate steps on the forest floor, holding its short tail cocked up higher than its back. Although it is not especially shy, its choice of habitat often makes it hard to observe; its ringing chant of teacher, teacher is heard far more often than the bird is seen. The name "Ovenbird" is a reference to the bird's nest, a domed structure with the entrance on the side, like an old-fashioned oven.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Takes insects from leaf litter while walking on ground and rotting logs. (Young Ovenbirds pass through a stage of hopping while they forage.) Sometimes probes among leaf litter, hovers to take insects from foliage, or catches them in mid-air. Individuals probably defend feeding territories in winter.


Eggs

Normally 4-5. White with gray and brown spots. Incubation by female only, fed sometimes by male. Cowbirds parasitize many nests, but Ovenbird nestlings often survive even when sharing the nest with young cowbirds. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest after 7-10 days, can only hop and flutter at this stage; fed by adults for another 10-20 days. 1 brood per year, but has been known to produce up to 3 broods in response to a spruce budworm outbreak.


Young

Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest after 7-10 days, can only hop and flutter at this stage; fed by adults for another 10-20 days. 1 brood per year, but has been known to produce up to 3 broods in response to a spruce budworm outbreak.

Diet

Mostly insects. During summer, feeds on a wide variety of insects including adult beetles and their larvae, ants, caterpillars, flies, true bugs, and others; also worms, spiders, snails. Winter diet not well known, but reportedly includes seeds and other vegetable matter.


Nesting

Male sings to attract female to nesting territory, and sings only sporadically during actual courtship. Male threatens rival males by tilting tail upward, drooping wings, and kneading with feet. Nest: Placed on the ground where ground cover is sparse, especially near trails or roads. Female chooses site, builds domed nest from dead leaves, grass, bark, twigs; lines it with animal hair.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Migrates mostly at night. Ovenbirds nesting east of the Appalachians may go to the Caribbean for the winter, while those from west of the Appalachians are likely to migrate to Mexico or Central America.

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Migration

Migrates mostly at night. Ovenbirds nesting east of the Appalachians may go to the Caribbean for the winter, while those from west of the Appalachians are likely to migrate to Mexico or Central America.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Loud staccato song-teacher, teacher, teacher-with geographical variation in emphasis. Flight song, often given at night, is bubbling and exuberant series of jumbled notes ending with the familiar teacher, teacher.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Wood Warblers Perching Birds

Ovenbird

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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