Note: greenish wings/back, orange crown bordered by dark stripes and bold eye ring.
  • Note: greenish wings/back, orange crown bordered by dark stripes and bold eye ring.

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Seiurus aurocapilla
Members of this diverse group make up more than half of the bird species worldwide. Most are small. However their brains are relatively large and their learning abilities are greater than those of most other birds. Passerine birds are divided into two suborders, the suboscines and the oscines. Oscines are capable of more complex song, and are considered the true songbirds. In Washington, the tyrant flycatchers are the only suboscines; the remaining 27 families are oscines.
This large group of small, brightly colored songbirds is a favorite of many birdwatchers. Wood-warblers, usually called “warblers” for short by Americans, are strictly a New World family. Most of the North American members of this group are migratory, returning in the winter to the tropics where the family originated. Warblers that nest in the understory tend to have pink legs and feet, while those that inhabit the treetops usually have black legs and feet. North American males are typically brightly colored, many with patches of yellow. Most North American warblers do not molt into a drab fall/winter plumage; the challenge posed to those trying to identify warblers in the fall results from looking at mostly juvenile birds. Their songs are generally dry, unmusical, often complex whistles (“warbles”). Warblers that live high in the treetops generally have higher-pitched songs than those that live in the understory. Warblers eat insects gleaned from foliage or captured in the air. Many supplement their insect diet with some seeds and fruit, primarily in fall and winter, and some also eat nectar. Most are monogamous. The female usually builds the nest and incubates four to five eggs for up to two weeks. Both members of the pair feed the young.
State Review Species
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General Description

A warbler with olive upperparts and whitish underparts that looks superficially like a small thrush, the Ovenbird nests in forests where males sing their ringing, rising “TEAcher-TEAcher-TEAcher” song from hidden perches. The spotted breast, white eye ring, and orange central crown framed by two black stripes are distinctive. Ovenbirds forage mostly on the ground, walking rather than hopping, turning over leaves to look for insects. Their closest approach to Washington in the nesting season is in northeastern British Columbia and the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and Montana. Wintering grounds are in Mexico, the West Indies, and Central America, and normal migration routes are from Texas eastward. However, the Ovenbird is one of the more frequent vagrant “eastern” warblers encountered in the West in both spring and fall (approaching 1,000 records in California and close to 40 in Oregon, where it is no longer on the state review list). Washington's 17 records are concentrated in May and June, with only three fall records. They are split about equally east and west of the Cascade crest, but with none on the outer coast. Curiously, there are no records for Idaho.

Revised November 2007

North American Range Map

North America map legend

Federal Endangered Species ListAudubon/American Bird Conservancy Watch ListState Endangered Species ListAudubon Washington Vulnerable Birds List

View full list of Washington State's Species of Special Concern