Ovenbird

Hey guys, welcome back! Today’s little bird, the ovenbird, may look like a tiny thrush, but it is in fact part of the wood warbler family! Just like some of the thrushes we’ve covered in the past, the ovenbird is a brown to olive-brown on top with a buffy-white breast filled with spots. Also like many thrushes it prefers to walk around on the forest floor finding food in the leaf litter. Don’t worry though, it’s not all that easy to confuse with a thrush. First there’s size, the ovenbird is much smaller. Also the face markings differ. The ovenbird has an orange crown bordered by a black stripe on each side. A former co-worker of mine called it the bird’s pilot light, given its name.

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“Peggy” the ovenbird, Central Park, NY

That orange crown is brighter in breeding males but is still pretty visible in birds of all ages and sexes. Ovenbirds are one of the more abundant warblers, and can be found throughout the summer (and, rarely, all winter) in much of the US east of the Rocky Mountains. But why are they called ovenbirds? Well, they nest on the ground, and those nests are small domes with one little opening on the side, looking similar to a dutch oven.

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Ovenbird, Central Park, NY

When I worked in Central Park we had a little ovenbird that liked to hang out by the Chess and Checkers House. That ovenbird (pictured in this post) you may have noticed was missing a foot, and had what looks like a big club-like growth which earned it the nickname “Peggy.” The cause of the injury I don’t know, but the club-like lumps are likely a condition called bumblefoot which is basically a bacteria infection of a wound. We considered trying to capture Peggy, but she seemed to be getting on just fine. Finding food and flying on her own. Come on back next time when we check out another common warbler, the American redstart! See you all then!

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