Adults measure 11 to 16 cm (4.3 to 6.3 in) long and span 19 to 26 cm (7.5 to 10 in) across the wings, averaging 19 g in body mass. They have olive-brown upperparts and white underparts heavily streaked with black; the flanks have an olive hue. A white ring surrounds the eyes, and a black stripe runs below the cheek. They have a line of orange feathers(which form a crest when erected) with olive-green tips running along the top of their head, bordered on each side with blackish-brown. The eyes and the upper part of the thin pointed beak are dark, while the lower beak is horn-colored.

Habitat and Distribution

Their breeding habitats are mature deciduous and mixed forests, with little undergrowth, across Canada and the eastern United States. For foraging, it prefers woodland with abundant undergrowth of shrubs. It thrives best in a mix of primary and secondary forest. Ovenbirds migrate to the southeastern United States, the Caribbean, and from Mexico to northern South America.In winter they occupy lowlands.


Ovenbirds forage on the ground in dead leaves, sometimes hovering or catching insects in flight. These birds mainly eat terrestrial arthropods and snails, and also include fruit in their winter diet.


The nest, referred to as the oven (which gives the bird its name), is a domed structure placed on the ground, woven from vegetation, and containing a side entrance. Both parents feed the young birds.

Calls and Songs

The song is a series of strident, low pitched,motives repeated eight times without pause. The second syllable in this song is a sharply accented: chur-tee to chur-tee to chur-tee to chur-tee to chur-TEE chur-TEE chur-TEE!