The ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) is a small songbird and part of the warbler family. It has a round head, fairly thick bill and a lively tail often cocked upward. It is a colorful little bird with olive-green feathers, black spots on its chest, a black and orange striped crown, pink legs and a white eye-ring. Interestingly, the ovenbird gets its name from its covered nest where the dome and side entrance is said to resemble a Dutch oven.
Ovenbirds live in forest areas. They hunt for adult beetles, worms, ants, caterpillars, spiders, flies and other insects in leaf litter. Nesting usually happens in different forest types as long as there is closed canopy cover, large trees and little ground cover. Male ovenbirds tend to defend established territories by singing from perches in the low canopy. Their chirps, described as a rapid-fire teacher-teacherteacher sound, act as alarm calls for such predators as barred owls and broad-winged hawks. Males also sing to attract females to nesting territory, yet they sing only sporadically during actual courtship.
At CROW, an adult ovenbird was admitted from Fort Myers after it was brought into the finder’s home by their pet cat. As a result of being attacked by the cat, the bird sustained a laceration on its left side that was approximately eight millimeters. The bird was also missing feathers in the area surrounding the wound.
According to CROW medical staff, one of the biggest concerns after an animal has been attacked by a pet is the risk for infection caused by bacteria in the pet’s mouth. “Yes, we treated (the infection) with antibiotics,” said Dr. Robin Bast, CROW staff veterinarian, confirming an infection did occur. “Bacteria found in cats’ mouths can result in potentially fatal infections.”
After its initial exam, the patient was started on antibiotics and pain medication. Veterinarians also administered fluids for mild dehydration.
“The wounds were kept clean until they scabbed over and healed. No sutures or bandaging were required in this case,” said Dr. Bast. “After completing a course of antibiotics, the wounds were healed, and the patient was flying well enough to be cleared for release.” Dr. Bast said the ovenbird recuperated after only just one week at the clinic. “The patient was released this past weekend after a successful course of treatment,” she said.
This is nesting season for many birds in Southwest Florida, so it is important for everyone to know that if your pet brings home a live bird or baby animal, you should contact a local wildlife rehabilitation center immediately so it can receive medical attention.
“If your pet brings home an injured bird or small mammal, put it in a cardboard box and keep it in a quiet, warm area of your house and contact CROW immediately for further instructions. Do not attempt to give food or water until the animal has been evaluated by a veterinarian,” said Dr. Bast. “It is important that they receive treatment even if there are no obvious wounds – if a cat brought in a bird, there may be small punctures too tiny for you to see, but that can still result in severe infection. CROW can provide directions over the phone to a drop off center nearest to your location.”
CROW Case of the Week stories are written by Bob Petcher and appear weekly in the Island Sun and River Weekly Newspapers.