Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ovenbird Flight Song

May 27, 2009 by Wil Hershberger
Ovenbird singing. © Wil Hershberger All Rights Reserved

Ovenbird singing. © Wil Hershberger All Rights Reserved

Most birders know the song of the ovenbird as “teacher-TEacher-TEACher-TEACHER!” This very loud and emphatic song rings out through the woods from dawn till dusk. Click here to listen to the diurnal song of the ovenbird.

Enterprising birders that are out in the woods at first light and last light might be treated to the wonderful and complex flight song of the ovenbird. Flying in a straight line above the trees or through an opening in the forest understory, the male ovenbirds delivers a splendid song that has to be heard to be believed.
Click here to listen to the ovenbirds flight song. This song could actually be classified as warbling. This rich and elusive song is, as you can imagine, very hard to record. Trying to follow an ovenbird with a parabola in hopes of being on the bird when he does this flight song is an exercise in futility. The best method is to setup a stereo microphone system in an area where you have heard flight song, start the recorder and wait. With solid state digital recorders there is no tape cost to worry about so you can record for very long periods and try to catch this crepuscular warbling.

This specialized song seems to be extremely territorial in nature. Playing back flight song to an ovenbird causes that male to nearly go into convulsions. He becomes extremely agitated and searches endlessly for the intruder. It is highly recommended that flight song never be played back to this species.

Next time you are heading for the woods to listen for and look for birds, get there early or go and stay late and listen for this magical flight song of the ovenbird.


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