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Uruguayan LBJ (1 Viewer)

Charles Harper

Well, folks, at last my turn to ask for help. I don't have a South American FG, and my non-birding daughter just sent me this photo, asking what it is. It was taken in Colonia, Uruguay. and it looks like a common, garden-variety something-or-other. From my own knowledge, I can't even figure out the family. Is it a female icterid? It is a passerine, I'm sure....


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Charles Harper

Much obliged, gentlemen. My daughter will be impressed that I consulted colleagues in Denmark and Italy, and then got back to her with their answer in a couple of hours.
furnariid i think Jane - i'm at school so no ref material but hornero is oven in spanish I think and Furnariidae are the ovenbirds

anyway, it's a sub-oscine passerine

more info....The Rufous Hornero is one of the Ovenbirds and is from the same family as the Woodcreepers. It looks a bit like a thrush but is very plain with a dirty white supercilium and a rather long, slightly curved bill.

It is very common in open country in the southern half of South America east of the Andes and is the national bird of Argentina.

They are often seen on the ground collecting mud or dung to build their remarkable nests. These look for all the world like miniature versions of the type of oven (or "horno") that you see outside many houses in rural South America. Hence the name "Ovenbirds" in English and "Hornero", the Spanish for baker.

These nests are built in prominent positions in trees or on any suitable man-made object such as telephone or electricity posts.

The nests consist of two chambers so that the 3 to 4 chicks are protected from predators and the wind - in most cases the entrance faces away from the prevailing wind.
Like most non-tropical birds in South America, eggs are laid in about September and the building of the mud nest depends on there being sufficient rain to produce the mud but rain that is not so heavy that it washes away the nest as it is being built.

A pair of Rufous Hornero will only use their nest for one season but, because the sun-baked mud is extremely hard, it can last for several years and abandoned nests may be used by a variety of other birds - so always check them out.

There is a story that they stop nest building on Sundays - so they must be related to the Wee Frees of Scotland.

There are illustrations in Ridgely & Tudor, Volume 2, Plate 2; and Sick, Plate 27.

here's a pic of the bird and the ovenlike nest


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Rasmus Boegh

BF member
As it is going to end up in the ID index; I'll just give a few hints on ID. As said, it is very common in open areas of Brazil (i.e. not the Amazon), east Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay & most of Argentina. If you are ever lucky enough to visit these regions, you are more likely than not to see this species, or at least left-overs of their distinctive nests. You often see them in pairs, very noisy pairs that is! They are, as mentioned by Tim, vaguely Thush-like in shape, but the real thing to look at are the colours. Upperparts are brownish, the underparts generally being slightly paler. The throat being whitish. What is of importance is the (almost) lack of distinct facial markings (except for the previously mentioned throat, and sometimes a rather vague, pale eye-brow). This being combined with a warm rufous (almost red) tail, contrasting with the back. Voila! You've got the ID. Close relatives have a tail that is concolor with the back and/or distinc facial markings, usually meaning a distinct (dirty) white eyebrow and/or greyish cap. Only exception being the Crested Hornero, that is obviously easy to exclude by the lack of a crest. In a large part of it's range (south), there are no close relatives that co-occur.

As correctly stated by Tim, their name comes from Spanish: Hornero meaning baker, and horno meaning oven. In the Spanish speaking countries of the region, this species is just known as "Hornero" [pronounced with a silent h; "ornero"]. These (and a few others in the same genus) are responsible for the name to the familiy Furnariidae; Ovenbirds. Perhaps somewhat unfair, as most members of this family don't built an oven-like mud nest at all! OBS: Do note that Woodcreepers are close relatives of the Ovenbirds, but not in the same family.

Baker in the oven ;)


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