Hornero Picture

Final for my Animal Drawing class. I wanted to do a series of bird drawings related to Brazilian mythology. Unfortunately I only had time for one. In Portuguese it’s called João-de-Barro, in English it is Rufous Hornero or Red Ovenbird. It is also the national bird of Argentina and Uruguay.

The story I grew up hearing was that João was a poor man who was also very generous, who built clay houses for other poor people. When he died he was rewarded by being turned into a bird who build clay nests.

I have also heard a different story that this bird was an indigenous man named Jaebé who in order to prove his worthiness to a woman he was courting, fasted for nine days wrapped in the hide of a tapir, and when he emerged he and his lover were turned into birds. However I am not entirely sure of the origin of this story, as I never read it in any mythology books, only on the internet- and you know how unreliable that can be for mythology.

Another myth is that the João-de-Barro traps the female inside the nest if she is unfaithful. This is false, but many people believe this story. As far as we can tell it originated from a science report about a bird who died inside the nest; its partner closed up the nest, then built another on top of the same house with a different partner. As the story was reprinted in other magazines and newspapers it became more embellished until now people believe this myth as fact.

Additionally it is believed that having a nest on the roof of your house is a sign of happiness and luck in the home. A house that has an ovenbird nest will not be struck by lightning. If the house has a nest and the nest is destroyed, it will attract lightning and the family will break apart.
Continue Reading: The Myths