Ovenbird.Abaco Bahamas.Tom Sheley.2


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. Ovenbird.Delphi Club.Abaco Bahamas.Tom Sheley.1

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.

Ovenbird, Abaco  Woody Bracey

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. 

Ovenbird.Bahama Palm Shores.Abaco Bahamas.Tom Sheley

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.

Ovenbird, M-o-W Abaco (Char Albury 3) Ovenbird, M-o-W Abaco (Char Albury 2) Ovenbird, M-o-W Abaco (Char Albury 1)

My plan to include audio of the ovenbird’s song and call has been temporarily thwarted by a glitch, but I’ll add them here when I have overcome the problem.Ovenbird, Abaco (Gerlinde Taurer)

Gauge the size of the bird against the pod it is standing on…Ovenbird, Abaco - Bruce Hallett

In this photo, you can see that the orange crest feathers are raisedOvenbird Seiurus aurocapilla (Cephas, wiki)

Credits: Tom Sheley, Woody Bracey, Charmaine Albury, Bruce Hallett, Gerlinde Taurer, Cephas / Wiki


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  2. I’m glad the pretty ovenbird is not for the Chrismas dinner table! She warble us into the new year instead. I always wonder reading your posts, RH, if the creatures of Abaco are as curious about us as we are of them! Another lovely post and I’ve enjoyed reading all of them again this year. Wishing you and your family a very Happy Christmas next week! EST 🙂


    • Well, you’d need quite a few for a Christmas spread… Possibly four-and-twenty baked in a pie! And yes, some of the birds, even shy ones, are very interested in humans. Abaco is so unpopulated that it’s easy to be somewhere where no one has been for maybe days or weeks. So they cautiously come out to have a look, and are quite unafraid. If you keep still & make some gentle encouraging noises, they will hop around and even sing. Some like it if you wear a bit of red! Many reef fish are very inquisitive too. I’ve greatly enjoyed your bees all year too, EST, and always look forward to a new post. Happy Christmas to them, and to you! RH

      Liked by 1 person

  3. To me this is a very special bird. We don’t get them on the west coast of the US, and I scramble to see them when visiting other places. I have never seen the orange crest, which was beautifully demonstrated in the photos presented here. Thanks for the informative post, RH.


    • Glad to find a fellow fan! When I first saw them scratching round in the leaves I thought they looked a bit dull. On closer acquaintance, not a bit of it. RH (nb some people are like that too, of course…)



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