Turning Up the Heat

First off, a quick bit of housekeeping. I kind of left everyone hanging after the first part of the Foam Coffin prop for the Haunted Halloween Trail (link here). That has been remedied now with the publishing of the second part, which brings it all together for last year’s signature prop (link here). Feel free to check that out if you are a fellow Halloween aficionado or would like to know what I do when I’m not running or hauling The Beast around.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. Today’s featured feathered friend comes to you from Sunday’s run. Well, maybe not technically, but the choice definitely originated over the course of that outing. Long distance running has to be one of the few athletic activities where it is in your best interest to keep your head “out” of the game. The last thing you want is to be mentally aware of every foot strike when you will be at it for hours and hours. My go to distraction is to plan out my next post. It didn’t take very long on that run to know this specimen was the perfect choice.

Oven Bird found at Dauphin Island's Shell Mound in April 2021

Not only was it a new bird for my checklist, it fit the theme of the day. For those not familiar with this intriguing looking bird, it is called an Ovenbird (note, admittedly, I always thought that was two words before doing the research for this post). Regarding the theme part, Sunday’s run was H-O-T. The cooler rain driven temps have left the area heeding to the unrelenting heat and humidity that dominates the Midwest in the heart of the summer. I was definitely feeling that heat on the later parts of my 50k simulation run (1/3 of the course). Whenever I made it to the bottoms of the deep valleys along the Illinois River bluffs it felt like I was in an oven.

Hit the jump to read more about our plump Warbler.

Oven Bird found at Dauphin Island's Shell Mound in April 2021

That feeling ended up triggering memories from our April trip down to Dauphin Island. The temps were much more tolerable down there which seemed a welcome fit the migrating Warblers that had completed a long run of their own having flown across the Gulf. Can only assume they appreciate seeing the vegetation at the Gulf Shores as much as I cherish the finish line of a grueling race coming into view.

Oven Bird found at Dauphin Island's Shell Mound in April 2021

The Ovenbird is a ground forager spending a lot of time on the forest floor looking for insects scurrying among the leaves and brush. Cornell mentioned they are not a shy bird and Ron and I can definitely confirm that. Unlike most of the Warblers that require a good amount of hunting, the Ovenbirds we came in contact would simply drop in along the path or dart out from the weeds. Soon after, they would stop and take a few moments to size us up before scampering along the trail ahead of us. The Ovenbird was new to me so I had some suspicion it would see Ron and attack him. The good news is I can put the Ovenbird in the “liked” column (helping to balance out the staggering amount of species in his “disliked” side of the equation).

Oven Bird found at Dauphin Island's Shell Mound in April 2021

There are several ground centric birds in the US. In Dauphin we found the Waterthrushes (actually a Warbler), Gray-Cheeked Thrushes, Wood Thrushes and the Brown Thrashers routinely competing with the Ovenbirds for those tasty ground morsels (assuming that description, admittedly haven’t tried them myself ha). On first look these birds can all start to look alike. Although there are varying shades of brown and olive, they all tend to sport similar breast patterns, pinkish feet and rummage behaviors once on the ground. Luckily, the Ovenbird has a very field distinguishable feature that makes their identification rather easy. They sport a black bordered orangish stripe on the top of their head. This can be tricky to see depending on the angle, but if you can get a high angle on them or decent look from the rear, you should be able to spot it (see image above).

Oven Bird found at Dauphin Island's Shell Mound in April 2021

These shots are definitely not as crisp as I would like. As with the Blackpoll post (link here), the lighting conditions were horrendous while trying to follow this specimen in and out of the shadows. Sometimes you have to take what you can get especially for the first encounter. These shots at least give you a decent feel for what the bird looks like in its natural habitat. To answer the likely question you have had since first being identified, the Ovenbird gets its unique name from their nest structure (not the stifling heat in Illinois River valleys ha). The female will clear an area on the forest floor and proceeds to weave a nest out of available materials (leaves, twigs, bark etc.). Resulting structure looks like a dome with an entrance on the side giving it a Dutch oven appearance. The inside is lined with animal hair/fur while the outside is camouflaged to blend in with surroundings.

As I am out of shots, will leave it there. Hope you enjoyed a new bird for Intrigued. A note on the race front – I’ll probably be thinking about this bird during my attempt at redemption in the full 50K race this coming Saturday – the “oven” temps put me in the hospital last time and don’t want to give Linda any more excuses to confiscate my running shoes. Stay frosty my friends.

8 thoughts on “Turning Up the Heat”

  1. Great job showing us the markings of this handsome bird. And, even with the challenging light, you got excellent color depth. Good luck with your race, hope the weather cooperates – run safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sam, always room for improvement but as long as I can get the distinguishing features in the tin so I can share with my readers, I’m happy. Appreciates the encouragement – good news is the temps are definitely trending down, but looks like starting the night before and right up to the race start is is going to be a downpour. Likely a mudfest, but I’ll take that every day over the heat that usually hammers us here. Not to slight your other posts in any way, but your recent Nightjar series was awesome.

      Liked by 1 person

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