Jun 07 2009
If you want to see an ovenbird, this is the time to do it.
Ovenbirds are forest dwelling warblers the color of fallen leaves. They usually spend their time walking the forest floor, weaving through the undergrowth, perfectly camouflaged as they feed on invertebrates among the logs and leaves.
They even take ground-dwelling to an extreme and place their nests on the ground. The female builds it in the shape of a beehive oven – hence their name.
Though hard to see they are easy to hear. Their song is a very loud “tee-CHUR tee-CHUR tee-CHUR tee-CHUR tee-CHUR” that carries easily through the forest.
I always hear more ovenbirds than I see, except right about now. When this recluse has young babies he becomes protective and brash.
Today I was harassed by an ovenbird at Ohiopyle State Park. As I walked through the woods I heard a loud warning “Dink!” In an effort to identify the source I paused to listen, and it didn’t take long to find out. The ovenbird was so provoked that he flew toward me, perched above me, raised his head feathers and repeated “Dink!” Then he sang to make me go away. He didn’t know his song would charm me.
Eventually he moved away and grabbed a small caterpillar from a leaf. Instead of eating it himself he flew off with it, so I knew he had babies to feed. I followed him with my binoculars in hopes of seeing his oven-shaped nest. To my surprise a fledging popped out of the undergrowth and he stuffed the caterpillar in its mouth. The fledgling was gawky but special to me – my first view of a young ovenbird.
Soon the fledglings will be self sufficient and their parents will stop caring when I walk by. So now is the time to see an ovenbird.
(photo by Chuck Tague)