Ovenbirds are found in mature
forests of eastern and central North America. They are named after their
nest, a domed structure with a side entrance which resembles old wood
ovens. They are most often encountered walking on the forest floor,
searching the leaf litter and rotten wood for insects. However, they are
probably heard more often than seen, having a very bold and distinctive song.
breed in a variety of forest types, but generally needs large unbroken forest
tracts with a closed canopy and an open understory. In winter, they're
found in forests and brushy thickets.
Diet: Primarily feeds
on insects. They will also take earthworms, spiders, small amphibians and
snails, and occasionally, fruits, berries, and seeds.
Behavior: Forages by
hopping along the ground, searching for insects in rotten wood and in fallen
leaves. They will also occasionally take flying insects from midair.
Nesting: June and July in South Dakota. The nest is a
dome of dead leaves, grasses, and other vegetation, built on the ground in a
protected location, with an entrance on the side. The female lays 3-6 eggs, and
she alone incubates them. The eggs hatch after about 2 weeks.
Breeding: The nest is an open cup of leafs,
mosses, twigs, pine needles, and other vegative material, placed in a protected
spot near or on a tree stump, among tree roots, or under a cut bank. The
female lays 4 or 5 eggs, and she alone incubates them. Both parents help
feed the young after the eggs hatch. The young leave the nest after about
Migration: Summers throughout
central and southeastern Canada, locally in the northern Great plains, and
throughout most of the northeastern quarter of the United States. Winters
in Florida, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Conservation Status: Numbers appear to be stable,
even though they're one of the most common hosts to Cowbird
parasitism. They are found over a wide geographic
region, and are common in many areas.
The IUCN lists the
Ovenbird as a species of "Least Concern".
South Dakota "Hotspot": Ovenbirds are easily found
at Newton Hills State Park in Lincoln County (southeastern part of the
state) in the spring. Good numbers breed there, and the sound of
Ovenbirds singing is very common in the park in May and early June.
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Ovenbird"
Photo Information: June 5th, 2007 -- Newton Hills State Park -- Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Ovenbird photos.