Furnarius – Hornero

Their mud nests are architectural marvels, often likened to miniature ovens, which is how they earned their name

Renowned for its remarkable nest-building skills and wide distribution across South America. These birds are found in diverse habitats ranging from tropical rainforests and savannas to grasslands and even urban areas. Their adaptability allows them to thrive in regions from southern Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay to parts of Bolivia, Paraguay, and northern Chile. The most well-known species, the Rufous Hornero (Furnarius rufus), is particularly widespread and iconic in countries like Argentina and Brazil.

Horneros are primarily insectivorous, feeding on a variety of invertebrates such as insects, spiders, and small crustaceans. They forage on the ground, using their strong bills to probe into soil, leaf litter, and other debris in search of food. Their diet can also include seeds and small fruits, particularly when insect prey is less abundant. Their foraging behavior is characterized by deliberate and systematic movements, often walking or hopping along the ground as they search for food.

The most distinctive feature of horneros is their elaborate nest-building behavior. These birds construct large, oven-shaped nests out of mud, clay, and plant fibers, which harden to form a sturdy structure. The nests are typically built on tree branches, fence posts, telephone poles, or even on buildings. The construction of a single nest can take several weeks to complete, with both members of a pair contributing to the building process.