Saturday, November 17, 2012

American Bittern - Botaurus lentiginosus

Today I am going to present some facts about the American Bittern.  But, first I must give thanks to a young birding lad, who was birding Parker River with his father, that stopped and told us about the location for the American Bittern.

Arriving at the location, which was across from parking lot 3, in the marsh.  We met a number birder who pointed us in the general direction of the bittern.  It did take a bit of searching with the binoculars to find this bird, but once located, it was finally easy to see, which leads me to the discussion.

I have seen the American Bittern in the past, the best sighting was at the Viera Wetlands, outside of Melbourne, Florida, where it was right out in the open.  I also have seen the bittern in Churchill, Manitoba.
Viera Wetlands
Churchill Manitoba

Moving Through the Marsh Grasses

The American Bittern is usually solitary and will move slowly and secretively through intense marsh vegetation.  The bittern's are usually most active at dusk and throughout the night.  It's plumage, a patent Brown plumage with the neck and breast having chested stripes on a pale a background and feathers on the back and upper wings are marbled and finely marked, blends in with the marsh grasses, which makes it much harder to see.
Moving Through the Marsh Grasses

Moving Through the Marsh Grasses
 The most interesting fact about the bittern is when it is alarmed it will stand motionless when it's bill point straight up and it contracts its body, which gives one of its name  "sky-gazer".

Bittern's call a loud "BOonk-atOonk, most often in the spring, which announces its presence.

The American Bittern ranges from Canada down to Mexico.

Their food consists of insects, fish, crustaceans, amphibians, reptiles and small mammals