Posted May 22, 2020
Written by Mike Perrin
As the end of May approaches, so does the end of the movement of warblers through Massachusetts. With migrants passing through, some decide to stay and establish breeding grounds, like one of the loudest warblers in the forest, the Ovenbird. Named after the oven shaped ground nest they construct, Ovenbirds are large warblers that are not as showy as many other species. Their plumage consists of an acorn crown, a white belly with brown spots extending to the rump, brown head, back and wings, and a pink bill. Ovenbirds are extremely loud and their song increases in volume; the mnemonic (a phrase or rhythm to remember bird songs) is “teacher, teacher, TEACHER, TEACHER!” or “pizza, pizza, PIZZA PIZZA.” Using the mnemonic, I think of Ovenbirds as incessantly excited students, or that you put pizza in the oven.
Ovenbirds can often be heard in tall, contiguous pine forests such as Minot Forest and Tweedy and Barnes Conservation Area and in tall stands of mixed forests such as Douglas S. Westgate Conservation Area and Marks Cove Natural Area. Since this song is easily distinguishable and their appearance can only be mistaken for a very small thrush, I would encourage beginner birders in Wareham to know this song and see if they can spot one! The birds can be seen on branches in the mid-canopy, shaking as they sing, hard enough to make me worry that they will fall off.