Rufous hornero -- 棕灶鸟 (Furnarius rufus)

Portrait of rufous hornero
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Rufous hornero fact file

Rufous hornero description

GenusFurnarius (1)

Given that Argentina’s national bird is arguably the plainest and least rufous of the horneros (Furnarius spp.), its common name is somewhat misleading (2) (3). The upperparts to its plumage are rufous brown, while the crown is greyish, the flight feathers are dusky, and the tail is rufous. Underneath, it is a slightly paler buffy-brown, with a whitish throat. While it may not be particularly striking, this lively and abundant bird is one of the most familiar species in many parts of southern South America (2).

Also known as
Red ovenbird.
Length: 18-20 cm (2)

Rufous hornero biology

Otherwise known as the true ovenbirds, the horneros are widely known for their elaborate oven-shaped mud nests, frequently seen adorning fence posts and telephone poles (2) (3) (4). Although these are only used once, they can take several years to disintegrate, and are often appropriated by other birds after the horneros vacate (2). In addition to their architectural skills, male and female pairs are known for their highly coordinated duets (2) (5). Breeding pairs remain together throughout the year, and begin the arduous task of building the nest several months before egg-laying. Around three to four eggs are laid between August and December and are incubated by both parent birds for 16 to 17 days before hatching. Similarly, both sexes feed the nestlings, which fledge the nest at 24 to 26 days old (6).

The rufous hornero is a ground forager, with most of its prey consisting of insects and their larvae, as well as other invertebrates (6), and occasionally vegetable matter such as seeds and fruit (7). In common with other ovenbirds, the rufous hornero is comparatively fearless of humans (8), and is often seen in built up areas, strutting along the ground or perched on a commanding vantage point (2).


Rufous hornero range

The rufous hornero occurs in northern and eastern Bolivia, southern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and northern and central Argentina (2).


Rufous hornero habitat

Mainly found in open or semi-open habitats below 2,500 metres (2).


Rufous hornero status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Rufous hornero threats

The rufous hornero remains common and widespread, with a population that faces no major threats and appears to be increasing (2) (9).


Rufous hornero conservation

There are no conservation measures in place for the rufous hornero, but it almost certainly occurs in numerous protected areas across its range (10).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

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The act of keeping eggs warm so that development is possible.


  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2009)
  2. Ridgely, R.S. and Tudor, G. (1994) The Birds of South America: The Suboscine Passerines. Volume II. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.
  3. Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  4. Burton, M. and Burton, R. (2002) International Wildlife Encyclopedia. Marshall Cavendish, New York.
  5. Laje, R. and Mindlin, G.B. (2003) Highly structured duets in the song of the South American Hornero. Physical Review Letters, 91: 1 - 4.
  6. Fraga, R.M. (1980) The breeding of rufus horneros (Furnarius rufus). Condor, 82: 58 - 68.
  7. Lopes, L.E., Fernandes, A.M. and Marini, M.A. (2004) Consumption of vegetable matter by Furnarioidea. Ararajuba, 11(2): 235 - 239.
  8. Skutch, A.F. (1996) Antbirds and ovenbirds, their lives and homes. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas, USA.
  9. BirdLife International (June, 2009)
  10. World Database on Protected Areas (June, 2009)

Image credit

Portrait of rufous hornero  
Portrait of rufous hornero

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