OvenbirdSeiurus aurocapillus (Linnaeus)
Status Fairly common in summer. Breeds. First migrants arrive generally in early to mid-May (average 11 May, earliest 25 April). Individuals on 18 April 1961 on Cape Sable and on 18 April 1971 on Sable Island were unusually early. This bird is widely distributed in deciduous woodlands in summer. It is not abundant during fall migration, which seems to peak in late August and early September. Later records are routine (average 26 October, latest 30 November), but a dying bird in Halifax on 16 December 1974 (J. and S. Cohrs) had stayed at its peril.
Description Length: 14-16.5 cm. Adults: Centre of crown dull orange, bordered on either side with a narrow dark brown or blackish brown stripe; cheek light olive-gray; white eye ring; rest of upperparts brownish olive. Underparts white, boldly streaked with black, except throat and belly, which are unmarked; no wing bars; legs and feet flesh-coloured.
Breeding Nest: On the ground, completely arched over, with entrance at the side. Composed largely of decayed leaves, fern stalks and mosses, and lined with fine rootlets or deer hair. Usually located in shady deciduous woods. Eggs: 4; white and well covered with rather large cinnamon-brown spots chiefly around the larger end. Laying begins early in June. On 3 June 1933 one was seen at Albany, Annapolis County, gathering nesting material, and on 11 June 1905 at Black River, Kings County, a nest was found containing four fresh eggs.
Range Breeds from northeastern British Columbia, northern Alberta, central Manitoba, central Quebec, and Newfoundland, south to Georgia, Alabama and Colorado. Winters from the southern United States south to the Lesser Antilles and through Mexico to Colombia.
Remarks This warbler is found most often in shady woodlands, especially where deciduous trees predominate and where a brook or wet, mossy area is near at hand. Its nest is unique among those of our native birds. The roof is cleverly arched over in such a way as to suggest a miniature Dutch oven, hence the name Ovenbird. The colloquial name "teacher-bird" originated from its loud and distinctive song, commonly interpreted as teacher-teacher-teacher, given with a marked crescendo ending.
Unlike most of our songbirds, this bird is a walker, and it constantly tips its tail while it moves with grace and agility over the mossy carpet of its shady woodland retreat. Although it is similar in behaviour to the Northern Waterthrush, with which it might be confused, it has white instead of yellowish underparts (heavily streaked in both birds), lacks the light brown line over the eye that is conspicuous in the Northern Waterthrush and has a dull orange crown patch that the waterthrush lacks.
Sefurus aurocapillus aurocapillus is the summer resident that breeds here. Sefurus aurocapillus furvior is the breeding race in Newfoundland that occurs here as a transient. A single S. a. furvior was collected by W. Earl Godfrey at Cape North on 30 August 1935. The two races are indistinguishable in the field.
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