The birds (Seiurus aurocapilla) is a small, inconspicuous bird which gains its common name from the traditional oven-like shape of its nest (3). It has a grey-olive head and upperparts, which contrast with its white underparts, white eyering and grey-white lores. The white breast and sides are heavily marked with large black streaks and spots (2) (3) (4) (5). The ovenbird’s most distinctive feature is its rufous-orange crown, which is bordered by bold, black lines (3) (4) (5) (6). This species has pink legs, brown eyes and a dark brown bill, which is paler on the underside (2).
The male and female birds are very similar in appearance, although the plumage of the female is slightly duller (2) (4). The juvenile ovenbird has cinnamon-brown plumage (2) and indistinct markings on its underparts (5).
The territorial song of the ovenbird is a loud, ringing ‘teacher-teacher-teacher’ (2), which is sung by neighbouring males in unison (3). Vocalisations are used by the male during courtship and are made from an elevated perch, usually around a metre from the ground (2).
There are three recognised subspecies of ovenbird, Seiurus aurocapilla aurocapilla, Seiurus aurocapilla cinereus and Seiurus aurocapillus furvior, which differ in range and colouration. S. a. aurocapilla has a bright green mantle and upper tail, and the sides of its neck are tawny. S. a. cinereus is similar, although it is usually paler and greyer on the upperparts and neck, while S. a. furvior has thicker stripes on the crown than the other subspecies (2).
- Length: c. 15 cm (2)
- Male weight: 17.8 - 28 g (2)
- Female weight: 18.4 - 26 g (2)