|Conservation status||Despite heavy parasitism by cowbirds in some areas, overall numbers seem to be holding up well.|
|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.|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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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
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsLoud 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.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Ovenbird
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Ovenbird
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.