North Carolina Mountain Birds: Ovenbird

For some reason, we feel like there’s not enough love out there for the Ovenbird. When people think of warblers, they might think of birds who have “warbler” in their names: Magnolian Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Pine Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler…you get the picture. But the Ovenbird is like, “Hey, I’m a warbler, too!”

So, to get this great bird the attention it deserves, we’ve reserved the July 2015 spot in our 12 Months of Birding at the Inn blog series.

Bird with brown stripes on its face and a brown and white speckled body standing on a branch

Ovenbird [Wikipedia]

The Ovenbird gets its name from the nest that it builds, which looks like an outdoor oven. It spends its summers in Pisgah National Forest around the Inn on Mill Creek B&B, arriving usually in mid-spring and then migrating back to its winter home in Central America and the Caribbean once the temperatures start cooling off at the end of summer. You can always tell the Ovenbird has arrived for its summer respite — it has a very loud call that sounds like teaCHER! teaCHER! teaCHER! — and they aren’t terribly difficult to spot if you follow the sound and keep an eye out for them. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes the Ovenbird this way:

“Ovenbirds are olive-green above and spotted below, with bold
black-and-orange crown stripes. A white eyering gives it a  somewhat surprised expression. Like several other terrestrial, or near-terrestrial, warblers, Ovenbirds have pink legs.”

I mean, how can you miss a bird with pink legs?

Small brown and white speckled bird with pink legs walking on the forest ground

Ovenbird [Audubon]

And back to that call of theirs: similar to a Vireo, the Ovenbird does not care if the afternoon gets warm; it’s going to sing, sing, sing. So it might be one of the few birds that you hear in the mid-afternoon on a hot summer day (hot for us being about 84 degrees).

The best places to spot the Ovenbird at the Inn on Mill Creek B&B are the wooded border behind our apple orchard, in the brush that borders the north lawn, and in the woods at the south end of the property near the picnic table and the small stream. Don’t just look up to the trees, either. Ovenbirds like to scoot along the forest floor foraging for insects. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology calls the Ovenbird’s stroll, “herky jerky”. So just watch for an olive-green bird with a dark-spotted chest and pink legs strutting around like Mick Jagger. Really, how does this bird not get more attention?

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