Ovens and Overnbirds: the Rufous Hornero


Yesterday some of us had birds in the oven; today let’s look at a kind of Ovenbird.

The Rufous Hornero – the national bird of Argentina and Uruguay – is a common, noisy bird of the Pantanal.

Rufous Hornero, Furnarius rufus, Pantanal, Brazil

Rufous Hornero, Furnarius rufus, Pantanal, Brazil

Horneros are Overnbirds, members of the genus Furnarius. Not because of the gaspingly hot regions in which they are often found. Although that might be reason enough. No, it’s their nests, which looked to early naturalists like miniature clay ovens. In fact, the name “hornero” comes from Spanish, “horno,” meaning “oven.”

Rufous Hornero Nests, Pantnal, Brazil

Rufous Hornero Nests, Pantnal, Brazil

Assembled from mud and bird spit, the nests have to involve a substantial effort. Yet the Horneros mostly use them only once. The nests are not wasted in subsequent years; they are used by other species. Rufous Horneros have adapted well to humans, and man-made structures are preferred places for the elaborate nests. It makes them unusual among avifauna in Brazil: they are prospering in the Anthropocene.

Hot Enough to Make the Ovenbirds Pant

Hot Enough to Make the Ovenbirds Pant

Terrestial and social, and occupying a wide range of habitats, Rufous Horneros are one of WC’s favorite Pantanal birds.

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