Seiurus aurocapillus
ITIS Species Code:   178927         NatureServ Element Code:   ABPBX10010
NatureServe Global Rank: 
NatureServe State (NC) Rank: 
Federal Status: 
NC State Status: 
Southern Blue Ridge:  20 Southern Piedmont:  18 South Atl. Coastal Plain:  17
Land Unit

US Fish & Wildlife Service
US Forest Service
US National Park Service
US Department of Defense
NC State Parks
NC University System
NC Wildlife Res. Com.
NC Forest Service
NC Div. of Coastal Mgmt.
Local Governments
Non-Governmental Org.
Other Public Lands
Private Lands

GAP Status 1-2
All Protected Lands




% of Dist. on
Prot. Lands

1.5 %
63.0 %
2.6 %
17.2 %
4.6 %
0.4 %
6.7 %
0.8 %
< 0.1 %
1.5 %
1.5 %
0.2 %
< 0.1 %

35.0 %
% of Dist. on
All Lands

0.2 %
8.1 %
0.3 %
2.2 %
0.6 %
< 0.1 %
0.9 %
0.1 %
< 0.1 %
0.2 %
0.2 %
< 0.1 %
87.2 %

4.5 %
Found state-wide during the breeding season, although only occasionally on the barrier islands (Fussell 1994, Fussell and Lyons 1990, Pearson 1959, Potter et al. 1980).

Found in mature deciduous or mixed forests (Dunn and Garrett 1997) with a closed canopy, large trees, little ground cover, and few shrubs (Smith and Shugart 1987). Prefers dry woodlands in the western part of the state, (Potter et al. 1980, Simpson et al. 1992), damp woods near the coast (Fussell 1994).

Builds dome-shaped nest out in the open on the leaf-covered forest floor, or in a clump of fern, grasses, or other low plants, or at the base of a shrub, sapling, or stump (Dunn and Garrett 1997). It may also be built into a slight depression (Griscom and Sprunt 1957). The nest is often placed near a forest opening such as a trail or road. Nest is constructed mostly from dead leaves; grasses, pine needles, hair, and fibers are also used (Dunn and Garrett 1997). It is always topped with leaves and branches and has a small entrance in the side (Ehrlich et al. 1988) which usually faces downhill (Nicholson 1997). Sings from low branches (Alsop 1991). Almost always forages on the ground (Ehrlich et al. 1988), in the leaf litter and in fallen logs, but will occasionally forage in a tree (Dunn and Garrett 1997).


Deciduous forest, rarely humid mixed woodland; medium-aged and mature forests; requires a relatively closed canopy, prefers woods with a high basal area of medium-sized trees, an open understory, and intermediate shrub density; most abundant in mature undisturbed woods with thick layer of leaf litter (see Bushman and Therres 1988). Prefers a hilly terrain, and occurs at elevations up to 1500m in the Southern Appalachians (Hamel 1992). Generally associated within large tracts of forest or forest patches that are close to large forested areas, though may breed in patches as small as 4 ha (see Bushman and Therres 1988). In Ontario, Canada, extirpations and recolonizations occurred most often in relatively small patches of forest (Hagan and Johnston 1992). In Pennsylvania, reproductive success was much higher in large forest tracts than in forest fragments (Porneluzi et al. 1993); more sensitive than other area-dependent birds to increased fragmentation via forest clear-cutting (Yahner 1993). In Missouri, percentage of males that were paired increased with forest tract size (0% paired in tracts of 350 ha, 65% on larger trracts of 900 ha); also, pairing success was significantly higher in territories that were more than 300 m from the forest edge (Van Horn et al. 1995). See Gibbs and Faaborg (1990) for estimates of the viability of populations in forest fragments in Missouri. See Wenny et al. (1993) for information on habitat selection in Missouri. Nests are built in slight depressions on the forest floor.

In migration and winter in various forest, woodland, second growth, and scrubby habitats (AOU 1983), including mangroves. In winter, primarily on floor of mature and secondary humid forest; prefers shady understory of forest with well-developed shrub layer, second growth and tall scrub (Stiles and Skutch 1989).

Occupied Landcover Map Units:
Code NameDescription NC Natural Heritage Program Equivalent
17 Maritime Forests and Hammocks Maritime forests and woodlands dominated by live or sand laurel oak. Estuarine Fringe forests dominated by loblolly pine. Coastal Fringe Evergreen Forest, Maritime Deciduous Forest, Maritime Deciduous Forest
50 Coastal Plain Mixed Bottomland Forests Includes forests dominated by a variety of hardwood species, including sweetgum, cottonwood, red maple. Coastal Plain Bottomland Hardwood (in part), Coastal Plain Levee Forest
49 Coastal Plain Oak Bottomland Forest Bottomland forests dominated by deciduous oak alliances. Oaks represented can include swamp chestnut, cherrybark, willow, and/or overcup oak. Inclusions of loblolly pine temporarily flooded forests occur in patches. Hydrology is temporarily to seasonally flooded. Coastal Plain Bottomland Hardwoods (in part) blackwater subtype, brownwater subtype
385 Oak Bottomland Forest and Swamp Forest The swamp chestnut oak, cherrybark oak, shumard oak and sweetgum alliance is one representative. Other alliances are dominated by water, willow, and overcup oaks. Swamp forests can be dominated by sweetgum, red maple, and black gum being dominant. Loblolly can occur in combination with sweetgum and red maple, or with tulip poplar. Includes saturated and semi- to permanently flooded forests in the mountains. Piedmont/Mountain Bottomland Forest, Piedmont/Mountain Swamp Forest
63 Coastal Plain Mesic Hardwood Forests Beech dominated forests with white oak and northern red oak as possible co-dominants. Dry-mesic to mesic forests on slopes and small stream bottoms in the coastal plain. Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest, Basic Mesic Forests
138 Coastal Plain Dry to Dry-Mesic Oak Forests Oak dominated forests of the coastal plain. Includes white oak forests with water oak or northern red oak and hickories as co-dominants. Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Basic Oak Hickory Forest, Dry Oak Hickory Forest
46 Xeric Oak - Pine Forests Mixed forest dominated by yellow pines with white or northern red oaks co-dominating. Pine Oak Heath
232 Xeric Pine-Hardwood Woodlands and Forests Mixed forest dominated by yellow pines with drier oaks including southern red, post, and chestnut oaks. Dry Oak Hickory Forest
230 Piedmont Mesic Forest American Beech - Red Oak - White Oak Forests. Mesic Mixed Hardwood
384 Piedmont/Mountain Mixed Bottomland Hardwood Forests Includes temporarily to seasonally forests dominated by hardwood species. Hardwoods include sweetgum, red maple, sycamore which co-occur in a mosaic of bottomland and levee positions. Includes alluvial hardwood forests in the mountains. Hemlock and white pine may occur as inclusions, but are generally mapped separately. Piedmont/Mountain Alluvial Forest, Piedmont/Mountain Levee Forest
383 Piedmont Mixed Successional Forest Generally loblolly mixed with successional hardwoods. Sweetgum, tulip poplar and red maple are common co-dominants in these successional forests. No equivalent
228 Piedmont Dry-Mesic Oak and Hardwood Forests Primarily oak dominated forests, white oak is often dominant, with co-dominants including . Also represented by sweetgum and tulip poplar dominated forests. Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Basic Oak Hickory Forest, Dry Oak Hickory Forest
222 Piedmont Dry-Mesic Pine Forests Loblolly dominated forests resulting from succession following clearing. This type occurs on all moisture regimes following disturbance with the exception of the extremely xeric sites. No equivalent
382 Dry Mesic Oak Pine Forests Mixed forests of the coastal plain and piedmont. Includes loblolly pine with white, southern red and/or post oak and loblolly with water oak. On basic sites of the piedmont, eastern red cedar may co-occur with post, black, and blackjack oaks. Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Xeric Hard Pan Forest, Chestnut Oak Forest, Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Dry Oak Hickory Forest
51 Deciduous Cultivated Plantation Planted deciduous trees. Includes sweetgum and sycamore plantations. No equivalent
522 Northern Hardwoods High Elevation forests including yellow birch, American beech, and yellow buckeye. Includes forests with Hemlock and Yellow Birch. Northern Hardwoods Forest, Boulderfield Forest
525 Appalachian Oak Forest A variety of oak forest types including Black, White, Scarlet Oaks in dry to mesic situations. Includes forests historically co-dominated by American Chestnut. High Elevation Red Oak Forest, Montane White Oak Forest
526 Appalachian Cove Forest Mixed Mesophytic forests of the mountains. Includes tuliptree, basswood, yellow buckeye and surgar maple. This class is mapped to include cove forests dominated or co-dominated by hemlock. Rich Cove Forest, Acidic Cove Forest
529 Appalachian Xeric Mixed Forest Mixed forests with Virginia, Shortleaf, Eastern White Pine, Table Mountain and Pitch pines in combination with xeric oak species. Oaks include, white, Southern Red, black, and rock chestnut. Pine Oak Heath
530 Appalachian Xeric Deciduous Forest Deciduous forests in the mountains dominated by Xeric Oak species. Species include, white, Southern red, black, and rock chestnut. High Elevation Red Oak Forest, Montane White Oak Forest
View Entire Landcover Legend
Additional Spatial Constraints:
Exclude all area outside of known range.
Exclude the outerbanks.
Limited to elevation range: less than 5000 ft.
Porneluzi, P., J.C. Bendarz, L.J. Goodrich, N. Zawada, and J. Hoover. 1993. Reproductive performance of territorial ovenbirds occupying forest fragments and a contiguous forest in Pennsylvania. Conservation-Biology 7: 618-622.

Villard, M.-A., P. R. Martin, and C. G. Drummond. 1993. Habitat fragmentation and pairing success in the ovenbird (SEIURUS AUROCAPILLUS). Auk 110:759-768.

Wenny, D.G., R.L. Clawson, J. Faaborg, and S.L. Sheriff. 1993. Population density, habitat selection, and minimum area requirements of three forest interior warblers in central Missouri. Condor 95:968-979.

Yahner, R. H. 1993. Effects of long-term forest clear-cutting on wintering and breeding birds. Wilson Bull. 105:239-255.

Bent, A.C. 1953. Life histories of North American wood warblers. U.S. Natl. Mus. Bull. 203. Washington, D.C.

Hagan, J.M., III, and D.W. Johnston, editors. 1992. Ecology and conservation of neotropical migrant landbirds. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. xiii + 609 pp.

Hamel, P. B. 1992. The land manager's guide to the birds of the south. The Nature Conservancy, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 367 pp + several appendices.

Fussell, J. III and M. Lyons. 1990. Birds of the Outer Banks [pamphlet]. Eastern National Parks and Monument Association Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society.

Sauer, J.R., and S. Droege. 1992. Geographical patterns in population trends of neotropical migrants in North America. Pages 26-42 in J.M. Hagan III and D.W. Johnston, editors. Ecology and conservation of neotropical migrant landbirds. Smithsonian Institu

Van Horn, M. A., R. M. Gentry, and J. Faaborg. 1995. Patterns of ovenbird (SEIURUS AUROCAPILLUS) pairing success in Missouri forest tracts. Auk 112:98-106.

Rappole, J.H., and D.W. Warner. 1980. Ecological aspects of migrant bird behavior in Veracruz, Mexico. Pages 353-393 in A. Keast and E.S. Morton, editors. Migrant birds in the neotropics:ecology, behavior, distribution, and conservation. Smithsonian Insti

Fussell, J.O. III. 1994. A birderís guide to coastal North Carolina. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press.

Dunn, J.L., and K.L. Garrett. 1997. A field guide to warblers of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

Nicholson CP. 1997. Atlas of the breeding birds of Tennessee. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.

Faaborg, J., and W.J. Arendt. 1989. Long-term declines in winter resident warblers in a Puerto Rican dry forest. American Birds 43:1226-1230.

Pearson, T.G. 1959. Birds of North Carolina. Raleigh, NC: Bynum Printing Company.

Gibbs, J. P., and J. Faaborg. 1990. Estimating the viability of ovenbird and Kentucky warbler populations in forest fragments. Conservation Biology 4:193-196.

Lack, D. 1976. Island biology illustrated by the land birds of Jamaica. Studies in Ecology, Vol. 3. Univ. California Press, Berkeley. 445 pp.

Harrison, C. 1978. A field guide to the nests, eggs and nestlings of North American birds. Collins, Cleveland, Ohio.

Griscom, L., and A. Sprunt, Jr. 1979. The warblers of America. Doubleday and Co., Garden City, New York. 302 pp.

Harrison, H.H. 1979. A field guide to western birds' nests. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 279 pp.

Keast, A., and E. S. Morton. 1980. Migrant birds in the Neotropics; ecology, distribution, and conservation. Smithsonian Inst. Press, Washington, D.C.

Potter, E. F., J. F. Parnell, and R. P. Teulings. 1980. Birds of the Carolinas. Univ. North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. 408 pp.

Terres, J.K. 1980. The Audubon Society encyclopedia of North American birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

American Ornithologists' Union (AOU), Committee on Classification and Nomenclature. 1983. Check-list of North American Birds. Sixth Edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Allen Press, Inc., Lawrence, Kansas.

Raffaele, H.A. 1983. A guide to the birds of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Fondo Educativo Interamericano, San Juan, Puerto Rico. 255 pp.

Harrison, H.H. 1984. Wood warblers' world. Simon and Schuster, New York. 335 pp.

Bushman, E.S., and G.D. Therres. 1988. Habitat management guidelines for forest interior breeding birds of coastal Maryland. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Tech. Publ. 88-1. 50 pp.

Ehrlich, P.R., D.S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's handbook:a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Shuster, Inc., New York. xxx + 785 pp.

Smith TM, Shugart HH. 1987. Territory size variation in the Ovenbird: the role of habitat structure. Ecology 68:695-704.

Ridgely, R.S., and G. Tudor. 1989. The birds of South America. Vol. 1. The Oscine passerines. Univ. Texas Press, Austin. 516 pp.

Stiles, F.G., and A.F. Skutch. 1989. A guide to the birds of Costa Rica. Comstock Publ. Associates, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York. 511 pp.

Alsop FJ III. 1991. Birds of the Smokies. Gatlinburg: Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association.

10 March 2005
This data was compiled and/or developed by the North Carolina GAP Analysis Project.

For more information please contact them at:
NC-GAP Analysis Project
Dept. of Zoology, NCSU
Campus Box 7617
Raleigh, NC 27695-7617
(919) 513-2853