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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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Maximum longevity: 11 years (wild)
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Reproduction

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Seiurus aurocapilla generally breeds in mature deciduous or mixed broadleaf-conifer forest tracts with little undergrowth, but will occasionally breed in pine forests. Seiurus aurocapilla requires relatively large contiguous forest areas for breeding. The male S. aurocapilla displays above and near the female; often the male pursues the female in a wild courting flight, singing throughout the flight. The male ascends 10--60 feet (3--21 meters) above the treetop level and hovers and flutters with spread wings and tail while singing. The nest of S. aurocapilla is built in the open, on leaf-covered floor of deciduous woods or just above the ground in a clump of low plants or shrubs. Often the nest is placed next to an opening in the forest. The nest is shaped like a Dutch oven, and is the source of the common name "ovenbird." It is built of dried grass, leaves, moss, other vegetative matter, and hair. The nest is well camouflaged with leaves, branches, and other litter placed on the roof. The entrance is a small slit on the side of the nest. Eggs are white with brown and gray markings, and about 0.8 inches (2 cm) long. Seiurus aurocapilla occasionally has two broods, and even three when spruce budworms are abundant. Females incubate the eggs and flushes only when approached closely and then will perform a distraction display. (Ehrlich, Dobkin, & Wheye, 1988; Dunn & Garrett, 1997; Zach & Falls, 1975)

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

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Foster, J. 2000. "Seiurus aurocapilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Seiurus_aurocapilla.html
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Jacob Foster, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Untitled

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Several subspecies of Seiurus aurocapilla are generally recognized, reflecting minor variations in the color of the upperparts. However, these subspecies are controversial. The subspecies S. a. furvior, found in Newfoundland, and S. a. cinereus, found in the western part of its range, are generally recognized. Authorities do not often recognize the subspecies S. a. canivirens, found in southern Appalachia. (Dunn & Garrett, 1997)

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Foster, J. 2000. "Seiurus aurocapilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Seiurus_aurocapilla.html
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Behavior

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Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Foster, J. 2000. "Seiurus aurocapilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Seiurus_aurocapilla.html
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Conservation Status

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Due to its need for large continuous forest tracts, S. aurocapilla is sensitive to forest fragmentation of its breeding habitat and wintering grounds. In breeding grounds, fragmentation of forest decreased suitable breeding sites and increases cowbird parasitism, to which S. aurocapilla is very susceptible. Towers, windows, and other human structures take a large toll on migrating S. aurocapilla. (Ehrlich, Dobkin, & Wheye, 1988; Dunn & Garrett, 1997; Link & Hahn, 1996)

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: no special status

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Foster, J. 2000. "Seiurus aurocapilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Seiurus_aurocapilla.html
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Benefits

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Seiurus aurocapilla is well studied by scientists in North America, partly due to its need for large mature forest tracts. Birdwatchers will travel to rural areas with large forest tracts to observe S. aurocapilla. (Dunn & Garrett, 1997)

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Foster, J. 2000. "Seiurus aurocapilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Seiurus_aurocapilla.html
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Trophic Strategy

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Seiurus aurocapilla eats insects, spiders, snails, and worms, primarily while walking on the floor of deciduous of mixed broadleaf-conifer forest among the leaf litter and fallen logs. In spruce budworm outbreaks, S. aurocapilla will feed in trees. Seeds and other vegetation sometimes make up part of its fall and winter diet. Seiurus aurocapilla will search for food based on prey distribution. It will learn where there are areas of high prey density and repeatedly revisit those sites. (Ehrlich, Dobkin, & Wheye, 1988; Dunn & Garrett, 1997; Van Horn & Donovan, 1994)

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Foster, J. 2000. "Seiurus aurocapilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Seiurus_aurocapilla.html
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Jacob Foster, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Distribution

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Seiurus aurocapilla breeds throughout much of the eastern United States and Canada. Along the east coast, S. aurocapilla ranges from southeastern Newfoundland in Canada to northern North Carolina. In Canada, it can be found as far west as central and northern Alberta and as far north as James Bay in the east and southern Northwest Territories in the west. In the United States, S. aurocapilla ranges west to central Minnesota down to western Arkansas, extending in some places west to central Montana and Colorado. Seiurus aurocapilla winters in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, although on some occasions will overwinter in the southeastern United States west to Texas. (Dunn & Garrett, 1997; National Geographic, 1999)

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

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Foster, J. 2000. "Seiurus aurocapilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Seiurus_aurocapilla.html
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Habitat

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Seiurus aurocapilla is found in mature deciduous or mixed broadleaf-conifer forest with little undergrowth, and occasionally pine forests. Breeding habitats are relatively dry uplands or slopes, although they have been noted to breed in bottomland forests and swampy areas. An abundance of leaf litter on the forest floor is essential for foraging and nest building. Seiurus aurocapilla requires relatively large contiguous forest tracts for breeding. (Ehrlich, Dobkin, & Wheye, 1988; Dunn & Garrett, 1997)

Terrestrial Biomes: forest

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Foster, J. 2000. "Seiurus aurocapilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Seiurus_aurocapilla.html
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Life Expectancy

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Average lifespan
Status: wild:
132 months.

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Foster, J. 2000. "Seiurus aurocapilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Seiurus_aurocapilla.html
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Morphology

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Seiurus aurocapilla is a large, thrushlike warbler, that is approximately 5.75 - 6 inches (14 -- 15 cm) long and has a mass of approximately 21 grams. It is olive to olive-gray above and white below, with bold black spotting on the underparts aligned into rows. Adult S. aurocapilla has a bold white eye-ring, thin blackish malar stripe, and blackish lateral crown stripes bordering a dull orange central crown stripe. The eye of S. aurocapilla is large and thrushlike, and the legs are pinkish, stout, and long. Males and females have similar plumage. Immature S. aurocapilla are less brightly colored, often with broader olive crown stripes. (Dunn & Garrett, 1997; Van Horn & Donovan, 1994)

Average mass: 21 g.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

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Foster, J. 2000. "Seiurus aurocapilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Seiurus_aurocapilla.html
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Seiurus aurocapilla

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A medium-sized (6 inches) wood warbler, the Ovenbird is most easily identified by its light brown upperparts, streaked breast, and orange crown patch. In many respects, this species resembles the related waterthrushes or a small true thrush, but none of those birds possesses this species’ distinctive orange crown. Male and female Ovenbirds are similar in all seasons. The Ovenbird breeds across eastern and central portions of the United States and Canada. In winter, this species may be found in central and southern Florida, the West Indies, Mexico, and Central America. The Ovenbird is absent as a breeding bird from the southeastern U.S., upper Midwest, and northern Great Plains, but may occur in those areas while on migration. Ovenbirds breed in a number of woodland habitats, primarily dense forests partially or entirely composed of deciduous trees. In winter, this species may be found in a number of subtropical or tropical forest types. Ovenbirds primarily eat small invertebrates, notably ants. In appropriate habitat, Ovenbirds may be seen walking on the forest floor while searching for insects in and among dead leaves. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a loud “teacher teacher teacher” commonly heard in northern forests in spring. Ovenbirds are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.

Threat Status: Least Concern

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Seiurus aurocapilla

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A medium-sized (6 inches) wood warbler, the Ovenbird is most easily identified by its light brown upperparts, streaked breast, and orange crown patch. In many respects, this species resembles the related waterthrushes or a small true thrush, but none of those birds possesses this species’ distinctive orange crown. Male and female Ovenbirds are similar in all seasons. The Ovenbird breeds across eastern and central portions of the United States and Canada. In winter, this species may be found in central and southern Florida, the West Indies, Mexico, and Central America. The Ovenbird is absent as a breeding bird from the southeastern U.S., upper Midwest, and northern Great Plains, but may occur in those areas while on migration. Ovenbirds breed in a number of woodland habitats, primarily dense forests partially or entirely composed of deciduous trees. In winter, this species may be found in a number of subtropical or tropical forest types. Ovenbirds primarily eat small invertebrates, notably ants. In appropriate habitat, Ovenbirds may be seen walking on the forest floor while searching for insects in and among dead leaves. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a loud “teacher teacher teacher” commonly heard in northern forests in spring. Ovenbirds are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.

References

  • Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla). The Internet Bird Collection. Lynx Edicions, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012.
  • Porneluzi, Paul, M. A. Van Horn and T.M. Donovan. 2011. Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/088
  • Seiurus aurocapilla. Xeno-canto. Xeno-canto Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012.
  • eBird Range Map - Ovenbird. eBird. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, N.d. Web. 20 July 2012.

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Rumelt, Reid B. Seiurus aurocapilla. June-July 2012. Brief natural history summary of Seiurus aurocapilla. Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
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Ovenbird

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The ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) is a small songbird of the New World warbler family (Parulidae). This migratory bird breeds in eastern North America and winters in Central America, many Caribbean islands, Florida and northern Venezuela.[2][3]

Taxonomy

The genus Seiurus is currently treated as monotypic, containing only the ovenbird; it is genetically distinct from all other species in the family Parulidae, probably the first genus to evolve separately from the rest of the family.[4]

Before the recent genetic studies were carried out, the waterthrushes were also included in Seiurus;[3][5] these are now treated separately in the genus Parkesia as they are not very closely related to the ovenbird.[4]

The species name aurocapilla is a noun phrase, so the original spelling is retained, not changed according to the gender of the genus name; Linnaeus originally named it Motacilla aurocapilla, and the ending is not changed to -us as commonly cited in the past.[6] Etymologically aurocapilla comes from Latin and means "golden haired" and Seiurus is from Ancient Greek seiō, "to shake", and oura, "tail".[7]

Description

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Adult with raised "crest"; Léon-Provancher marsh, Québec (Canada)
Video of male calling
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Nest with chicks
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Six-day-old chicks

Ovenbirds are large wood warblers and may sometimes be confused by the untrained for a thrush. Adults measure 11–16 cm (4.3–6.3 in) long and span 19–26 cm (7.5–10.2 in) across the wings.[8][9][10] They weigh 19 g (0.67 oz) on average,[11] with a range of 14–28.8 g (0.49–1.02 oz).[8] Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 6.8 to 8.3 cm (2.7 to 3.3 in), the tail is 5 to 5.8 cm (2.0 to 2.3 in), the bill is 1.1 to 1.3 cm (0.43 to 0.51 in) and the tarsus is 2 to 2.3 cm (0.79 to 0.91 in).[3] They tend to be heavier in winter and particularly at the start of their migration.[12] 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 with olive-green tips running along the top of their head, bordered on each side with blackish-brown. The orange feathers can be erected to form a small crest. The eyes and the upper part of the thin pointed beak are dark, while the lower beak is horn-colored and the legs and feet are pinkish.[2]

Males and females look alike. Immature birds have tawny fringes to the tertiary remiges and sometimes buff-tipped outer primary wing coverts. Most conspicuously, the olive-green tips of the crown feathers, which are hardly visible in adult birds, are far larger in extent in immatures and cover the orange crown-stripe almost or completely.[2]

The main song of the ovenbird is a series of strident, relatively low-pitched, bisyallabic motives repeated without pause about eight times and increasing in volume. Usually, the second syllable in each motive is sharply accented: "chur-tee’ chur-tee’ chur-tee’ chur-tee’ chur-TEE chur-TEE chur-TEE!" Male ovenbirds utter a sweet chattering song in the air at twilight, after the manner of the skylark,[13] incorporating portions of the main song into a jumble of sputtering notes and mimicry as they dive back to earth. The call is a variably pitched, sharp "chik!" Some variations recall the common call note of a downy woodpecker. If the bird is excited, it may repeat this call several times.[2] The fight call is a high, rising siiii.

Ovenbird song recorded in Minnesota

Range and ecology

Their breeding habitats are mature deciduous and mixed forests, especially sites with little undergrowth, across Canada and the eastern United States. For foraging, it prefers woodland with abundant undergrowth of shrubs; essentially, 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. The birds are territorial all year round, occurring either singly or (in the breeding season) as mated pairs, for a short time accompanied by their young. During migration, they tend to travel in larger groups however, dispersing again once they reach their destination.[2]

In winter, they dwell mainly in lowlands, but may ascend up to 1,500 m (4,900 ft) ASL e.g. in Costa Rica. The first migrants leave in late August and appear on the wintering grounds as early as September, with successive waves arriving until late October or so. They depart again to breed between late March and early May, arriving on the breeding grounds throughout April and May. Migration times do not seem to have changed much over the course of the 20th century.[2][14][15]

This bird seems just capable of crossing the Atlantic, as there have been a handful of records in Norway, Ireland and Great Britain. However, half of the six finds were of dead birds. A live ovenbird on St Mary's, Isles of Scilly in October 2004 was in bad condition, and died despite being taken into care.[16]

Ovenbirds forage on the ground in dead leaves, sometimes hovering or catching insects in flight. This bird frequently tilts its tail up and bobs its head while walking; at rest, the tail may be flicked up and slowly lowered again, and alarmed birds flick the tail frequently from a half-raised position. These birds mainly eat terrestrial arthropods and snails, and also include fruit[17] in their diet during winter.[2]

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. The female usually lays 4-5 eggs speckled with brown or gray. Only the female incubates, for 11-14 days. Young are altricial and are fed by both parents. First flight is at 8-11 days of age.

The placement of the nest on the ground makes predation by snakes, red squirrels, and chipmunks (Tamias) a greater concern than for tree-nesting birds. Chipmunks have been known to burrow directly into the nest to eat the young birds.[3] The female can perform a distraction display, simulating a crippled bird, when a potential predator is in the vicinity of the nest.

The ovenbird is vulnerable to nest parasitism by the brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater), which is becoming more plentiful in some areas. However, the ovenbirds' numbers appear to be remaining stable. Altogether, it is not considered a threatened species by the IUCN.[1][3]

In literature

It is the subject of a poem by Robert Frost, "The Oven Bird", published in his poetry collection Mountain Interval in 1916. Robert Bly also makes reference to "the nimble oven bird" in his short poem "The Slim Fir Seeds."

References

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Seiurus aurocapilla". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.old-form url
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Stiles, F. Gary & Skutch, Alexander Frank (1989): A guide to the birds of Costa Rica. Comistock, Ithaca. ISBN 0-8014-9600-4
  3. ^ a b c d e Curson, Jon; Quinn, David; Beadle, David (1994). New World Warblers. London: Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-7136-3932-6.
  4. ^ a b Lovette, IJ; Pérez-Emán, JL; Sullivan, JP; Banks, RC; Fiorentino, I; Córdoba-Córdoba, S; Echeverry-Galvis, M; Barker, FK; Burns, KJ (2010). "A comprehensive multilocus phylogeny for the wood-warblers and a revised classification of the Parulidae (Aves)" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution. 57 (2): 753–70. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.07.018. PMID 20696258.
  5. ^ Sibley, D. (2000). The Sibley Field Guide to Birds. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-679-45122-6.
  6. ^ David, N.; Gosselin, M. (2002). "Gender agreement of avian species names" (PDF). Bull. Brit. Orn. Club. 122 (1): 14–49. [Seiurus aurocapilla, item #169, p. 38].
  7. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Helm. pp. 62, 352. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  8. ^ a b Ovenbird, Life History, All About Birds – Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Allaboutbirds.org. Retrieved on 2012-08-24.
  9. ^ Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute-Seiurus aurocapilla. Biogeodb.stri.si.edu. Retrieved on 2012-08-24.
  10. ^ Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) Archived 2014-02-02 at the Wayback Machine. Planet of Birds (2011-06-08). Retrieved on 2012-08-24.
  11. ^ Seiurus aurocapilla (Ovenbird). Global Species. Retrieved on 2012-08-24.
  12. ^ e.g. a male wintering on Grand Cayman weighed 20.5 g (0.72 oz): Olson, Storrs L.; James, Helen F.; Meister, Charles A. (1981). "PDF fulltext Winter field notes and specimen weights of Cayman Island Birds" (PDF). Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 101 (3): 339–346.
  13. ^ Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Oven-bird" . New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
  14. ^ Henninger, W. F. (1906). "A preliminary list of the birds of Seneca County, Ohio" (PDF). Wilson Bulletin. 18 (2): 47–60.
  15. ^ Ohio Ornithological Society (April 2004). "Annotated Ohio state checklist" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2004-07-18. Retrieved 2008-02-12.
  16. ^ Rogers, M. J. et al. (2005). Report on rare birds in Great Britain in 2004. British Birds 98: 628–694 [Ovenbird, p. 688].
  17. ^ E.g. of Cymbopetalum mayanum (Annonaceae): Foster, Mercedes S (2007). "The potential of fruit trees to enhance converted habitats for migrating birds in southern Mexico". Bird Conservation International. 17: 45. doi:10.1017/S0959270906000554.
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Ovenbird: Brief Summary

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The ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) is a small songbird of the New World warbler family (Parulidae). This migratory bird breeds in eastern North America and winters in Central America, many Caribbean islands, Florida and northern Venezuela.

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