I knew nothing about the ovenbird except that three times one had flown into one of the windows and subsequently spent the next few hours in the recuperation cage.
All recovered and were happily set free.
While in its period of captivity, however, it stood in one corner and glared unmercifully at me. Perhaps it's just the bright white ring around its great big black eye but this little bird definitely acts upset when I go to check its progress. It wants OUT (as in N-O-W) even though a quick perusal shows very clearly it isn't yet able to fend for itself in that great big world beyond the edge of the deck.
I have had many "captured" birds in my life but most sanguinely get on with their business of getting well enough to again hit the road (so to speak) and pay little if any attention to me or the dogs. Even the inquisitive cat has learned this treat is not for her (though, candidly, in this household only Minor shows any taste for avian delicacies).
At a first - if very rapid - glance, the little ovenbird resembles a female goldfinch though, once settled, there is little similarity in spite of the fact my book does refer to its "olive upperparts." The breast is heavily streaked, an immediate sign this is no goldfinch.
What makes it especially beautiful to my eyes are the two black stripes running from beak to back with the richest shade of chestnut brown in between. Once seen this is a bird not to be forgotten - or misidentified (to those with memory longer than mine).
I had identified it as a thrush and searched for it among those who've also spent time in the house hospital. It came as a surprise then to find it listed instead among the warblers.
It was also a surprise to learn this little bird prefers to be in the forest where it spends its days serenely strolling in the shade among fallen logs and leaves. Were one lucky enough to encounter it there (and I am told they can be very tame when in their own happy habitat), it would be seen with a bobbing head, uplifted tail and, possibly, slightly drooping wings. Happy perhaps but it also sounds like a deep thinker.
Its nest, also located in the woods, is a distinctive dome built on the ground. Usually erected of dead leaves, the bird might also use parts of plants, grasses, pine needles and hair were any happening to be lying around. It is the dome shape that has given the bird its name, a resemblance somebody decided to a Dutch oven.
The most commonly heard call (why have I overlooked it?) is a TEA-cher, repeated often and usually from a high perch. When I read that this little darling may also sing after dark, I began to wonder if that was one of the other calls that I have tried to identify after finally deciding what I'm hearing really doesn't sound like a spring peeper at all.
I can offer no suggestion why this bird of the forest wants to make a problem by flying into my window. And, realistically, by late September or early October it should be thinking about leaving for warmer climes.
I'll be looking again come mid-March.
Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org