On Monday (5/9/2016), I was walking to my office in the New Orleans Central Business District. I passed through a breezeway lined with marble planters containing oaks and Bradford Pear trees and I noticed a small brown bird fly down from the trees to a planter.
The bird was grayish brown with white belly marked by thick dark brown streaking all the way down to nearly the rear, much like a thrush although smaller and more compact. The only marking on the back and face was a white eye-ring and an orange-colored stripe on top of the head. It was an Ovenbird!Ovenbirds are typically seen in Louisiana only during migration (though a few individuals seem to winter locally); March through May in the spring and August through October in the fall. They travel from their wintering grounds in Central America, Florida and the Caribbean islands to the northeastern North America as far south as the Ozarks and Appalachian Mountains. We are just a pit stop for them. I thought that this was an unusual species to see in an open urban setting. I usually find Ovenbirds in dark forests (especially coastal live oak groves) foraging on the ground in heavy leaf litter. This bird was content to scratch around inside the leafy bottoms of the planters, flying back into the low canopy when a person passed. It continually fascinates me what odd visitors can be found during migration.