The New International Encyclopædia/Oven-bird

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OVEN-BIRD. A bird that builds a domed nest somewhat like an old-fashioned outdoor oven. The name belongs primarily to certain species of South American tree-creepers of the genus Furnarius and family Dendrocolaptidæ, which are small, non-oscine, passerine birds with short wings, feeble power of flight, and plain brownish colors. These birds are numerous in Argentina, and are familiar about village gardens and farms. Both sexes take part in the construction of the nest, which is generally in an exposed situation, remarkably large and of the shape of a dome, with a small entrance on one side. It is made of clay, mixed with a little hair or grass, well plastered together, and becomes quite firm as the clay dries in the sun. Its building sometimes requires several months. Internally, it is divided into two chambers by a partition reaching nearly to the roof, the eggs (pure white) being placed in the inner chamber on a bed of soft grass and feathers. The outer chamber seems to be intended for the male. Such nests are made by Furmurius rufus (the hornero or ‘baker’) and some others, and a new one is constructed each year; but other species of the same genus nest quite differently.

In the United States the name ‘oven-bird’ is given to the golden-crowned ‘water-thrush’ (q.v.) (Seiurus aurocapillus), one of the larger wood-warblers. It is rather more than six inches long, olive green above, white, streaked with black, beneath, and with the centre of the crown pale rufous. During the summer it is found throughout North America, except west of the Rocky Mountains, and it winters from Florida and Texas southward. The nest is rather large, roofed over, with the entrance on one side. It is composed of rootlets, grasses, leaves, etc., and is made on the ground. The eggs are four or five, white, spotted with brown. The oven-bird is remarkable for uttering a sweet chattering song in the air at twilight, after the manner of the skylark; but it is better known by its customary accelerated call. Another peculiarity of the bird is that it walks with a see-sawing motion accompanied by a rhythmical nodding of the head. Consult for the South American oven-bird, Hudson, The Naturalist in La Plata (London, 1892); Selater and Hudson, Argentine Ornithology (London, 1888); Newton, Dictionary of Birds (New York, 1893-96); and for the American oven-bird, standard ornithologies and Burroughs, Wake Robin (Boston, 1872, and later).