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Ovenbirds: Furnariidae

Behavior And Reproduction

Ovenbirds do not migrate, and are found usually alone or as a breeding pair, but sometimes in small groups. Some species are found primarily on the ground and others remain mostly in trees. When foraging on the ground they tend to walk and hop. While foraging in trees, some species are very quick as they search through foliage and finer branches, while other species are very agile as they forage on tree trunks. Some species are strong flyers, while others are weak and unable to fly long distances. Their calls are harsh and scolding, and their songs consist of a series of whistles and trills.

Ovenbirds build various shapes and types of nests. Many species build loose nests of plant fibers such as twigs and moss inside a cavity in a tree, among rocks, or in dense foliage. Other species make nests of lumps of moist clay, each about 0.1 ounces (3 grams) in weight, which is carried inside the bill. When completed, the nest looks like an oven, often weighing about 10 pounds (4 kilograms). One mated pair of ovenbirds may work on several nests at the same time. Other species dig tunnels from 3 to 10 feet (1 to 3 meters) long into an earthen bank or cliff. Still other species build small, spherical, hanging nests in trees, which are entered from a hole underneath. The last species group builds the largest of ovenbird nests, up to 3 feet (1 meter) in height, with several chambers enclosed inside the nest.


Rufous horneros build rounded nests out of moist clay, like a traditional clay baker's oven. They first build a base, often on a stout tree branch. They bring in small clumps of clay, mud, and some straw and hair to the construction site with their bill. The outer walls are built next, followed by the roof, which is dome-shaped. An entrance hole is left on one of the sides. Inside, a lining is made of fine fibers of soft grass and other plant tissues.

Females lay two to six eggs that are usually white but can be blue or greenish. Both parents share in egg incubation, sitting on the eggs, and in the care of nestlings, young birds unable to leave nest, and fledglings, birds that has recently grown the feathers needed for flight. The incubation period is fifteen to twenty-two days, and the nestling period, time necessary to take care of young birds unable to leave nest, is thirteen to twenty-nine days.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsOvenbirds: Furnariidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Rufous Hornero (furnarius Rufus): Species Accounts, Greater Thornbird (phacellodomus Ruber): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, OVENBIRDS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATI