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Seiurus aurocapillus

Length: 6 inches Wingspan: 9 inches Seasonality: Summer / Migrant
ID Keys: Obvious white eye-ring, white underparts with brown streaks, olive-brown upperparts, orangish crown stripe with black edges.

Ovenbird - Seiurua aurocapillusOvenbirds 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.


Will 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.


Primarily feeds on insects.  They will also take earthworms, spiders, small amphibians and snails, and occasionally, fruits, berries, and seeds.


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.


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.


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 10 days.


Loud repeating call, getting stronger towards the end...TEAcher-TEAcher-TEAcher-TEACHER. 


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.

Interactive eBird Map:

Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Ovenbird sightings

Similar Species:

Ovenbirds have relatively unique plumages for North American warbler species, but there are a few other brownish, striped species that could cause confusion if not seen well.

Northern Waterthrush - Seiurus noveboracensis Northern Waterthrush - Seiurus noveboracensis
Northern Waterthrush Northern Waterthrush

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.

Further Information:

  1. Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Ovenbird
  2. WhatBird - Ovenbird
  3. Audubon Guide - 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.

Audio File Credits:

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Ovenbird - Range map
South Dakota Status: Common migrant throughout the state.  Common summer breeding resident in the Black Hills, uncommon in appropriate habitat elsewhere in the state.

Additional Ovenbird Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
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