Teacher bird

A funny thing about birds in the hand; they’re so much smaller than we realize. Sometimes it’s even difficult to recognize them for a moment or two, I guess because we’re not used to seeing them in so much detail.

Or at least I’m not.


Says Laura who refuses to wear her glasses when birding.

Ovenbirds are handsome warblers; an olive-green back and a white waistcoat spotted and streaked like a thrush. And they have very big eyes! They like to make their dutch-oven shaped nests on slopes in deciduous woods, on the forest floor.

Theirs was one of the first warbler songs I learned, because it’s so easy to recognize and so loud! When I first put bird and song together, I was surprised to imagine all that noise coming from such a tiny, inconspicuous-looking bird. Their only bit of color comes from that black-rimmed orange stripe across the top of the head.

The farmhouse we stayed at in W. Virginia was blessed with many ovenbirds in the surrounding woods. That was quite a treat for me as I’m used to having to *go* somewhere to hear their song. Something neat I learned about them there is that they sing at night… a funny sort of flight song, but I can’t find it referenced in any of my bird books. Anyone know any more about that?

Please click on the pics to make them bigger, especially that first one. It’s sure to make you smile.

13 thoughts on “Teacher bird”

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  2. All I know is that one scared the crap out of me one night, and Keith said it was an ovenbird. (Why are we taking his word for it?) It’s very jarring, to hear a songbird burst forth in the dark!

  3. Oh, my. These are such wonderful hands-on posts! I never get over how simply amazing it feels to hold on to a small songbird and get to look them over so closely. Very nice photos.

  4. I hear Ovenbirds all summer at Hasty Brook. I’ve hear their short call into the evening but never connected that pretty flight song to them. It’s much prettier than “teacher-TEACHER!!”

  5. Your query about the night-time song of the ovenbird gave me that strange feeling I get when I think I might’ve written about something. I searched my blog, and lo and behold, I found I had written a whole damn poem on the subject, FWIW. (Not sure it does much to answer your question, though.)

  6. Laura:

    I got to see an Ovenbird being banded this weekend, and it was tiny. I had the impression they were much bigger, but seeing one in hand made me appreciate how dinky they are.

    The bander had me touch the soft feathers of its belly. He told me Ovenbirds are the softest birds he handles.

    Don’t know anything about their night songs, tho.

    Your photos are better than the ones I got.

    ~Kathi, VW word is “hungrai” as in “I am very hungrai after driving 5.5 hrs from Magee Marsh today.”

  7. That first picture did put a smile on my face, Laura! How lovely this tiny Oven bird is! How ’bout that fancy cage they use? A lot different from the bag used by Bill at WV – but I suppose the birds could care less 😉
    Interesting about the night flight song! I’d like to learn more about that, too!

  8. Wow, I didn’t even note the orange stripe on its crown! I’ve only seen an ovenbird once, foraging, and I didn’t get a pic. These are great!

    And I didn’t know about the night song either. Cool!

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