Friday, April 1, 2011

Bird of the month: Ovenbird

The Ovenbird (Seiurus atricapilla) is a ground-loving warbler that breeds in Canada and eastern United States, migrating then to Florida, Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America for the winter. Panama represents the southernmost part of its usual wintering range, where it is frequently encountered in the western part of the country, becoming increasingly rarer farther east, including around the former Panama Canal zone in central Panama, and with only two record from our easternmost province, Darien. It can be seasonally very common in selected sites. We were just dating when I took Gloriela to her first real birding trip to the exotic, remote and tiny Escudo de Veraguas island off the coast of Bocas del Toro (western Caribbean slope, check the map at the end of the posts of this blog). It was october's second week and the island turned out to be a migrant trap... Gloriela got the wrong idea that the Ovenbird was simply the MOST common bird of Panama, considering the number of tame individuals that we saw, sometimes walking just inches from our feet (she called them the "pollitos"). In fact, I took the first photo with a point-and-shoot camera with an optic zoom of 3X (notice the sandy soil of the island)! The orange crown bordered in black and the white eye-ring separates this species from the similar-looking waterthrushes, sharing with them the ground-dwelling habits and the streaked underparts. But despite the general similiar appearance, these birds are not closely related, as demonstrated recently by Lovette and Hochachka. In fact, the Ovenbird seems to be basal to all the others warblers, a rather surprising relationship for this migrant. Well, for these and many others reasons is why we choose the Ovenbird as our bird of the month!

You can check this week's most interesting posts at Bird Photography Weekly # 136.

Literature consulted:

1. Ridgely RS, Gwynne J. A guide to the birds of Panama. First spanish edition 1993.

2. Angehr GR, Dean R. The birds of Panama. A field guide. First edition 2010.

3. Lovette IJ, Hochachka WM. Ecology 2006; 87:S14-S28


  1. Great shots of the Ovenbird Jan. It sounds like your trip to Escudo de Veraguas was magical.

  2. I have never heard of the Ovenbird.. Thanks for sharing the info and photos!

  3. Another great selection for "Bird of the Month"!

    Thanks for showing us this bird in Parque Metropolitano and in the flesh...


  4. @Larry: magical indeed, I still have to post about it, despite it was many years ago (and I definitively need to return).
    @Rebecca and Leslie: you are welcome!

  5. Very awesome photos...visiting from Bird Photography...followed you, hope you'll follow me back

    mine's here:

  6. Great photos and info on the Ovenbird. We can't wait for these little guys to fill our woods with song soon!