OVENBIRDS FOR CHRISTMAS ON ABACO (NB NOT ROAST TURKEY)
The Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) is a small winter-resident warbler with distinctive orange head feathers that can be raised into a crest. I’m guessing this accomplishment is mainly used in the breeding season as a way to impress and attract a mate. Maybe when alarmed or excited at other times as well. Right now, with Christmas only ’12 sleeps’ away, they have become a visible presence on Abaco and the Cays despite their shyness and a general tendency to shuffle around in the undergrowth looking for insects and small snails.
You may hardly be aware of these rather unassuming little birds, and as they rootle their way through the dead leaves under shrubs they can look quite dull. See one lit up by the morning sun, however, and you’ll see how pretty and richly marked they are.
The Ovenbird enjoys the taxonomic distinction of being the only bird of its genus in the warbler family Parulidae. It is a so-called ‘monotypic’ species. It was formerly lumped in with Waterthrushes, but was found to be genetically dissimilar so its new status was granted.
The ovenbird is so named because it builds a domed nest (“oven”) with a side-entrance, constructed from foliage and vegetation. They tend to nest on the ground, making them vulnerable to predation. The species name for the ovenbird, Seiurus aurocapilla, has nothing to do with the nest shape, though. It derives from both Greek and Latin, and loosely means ‘shaking tail, golden haired’. No, nothing to do with Miley Cyrus either. Leave it.
Here are some recent shots taken by Charmaine Albury on Man-o-War Cay, showing the orange crest very clearly.
Credits: Tom Sheley, Woody Bracey, Charmaine Albury, Bruce Hallett, Gerlinde Taurer, Cephas / Wiki