American Bittern Bird – Habitat | Range | Flight | Size | Migration

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The American bittern, scientific name Botaurus lentiginosus is a species of wading bird within the heron family. It has a Nearctic distribution, breeding in Canada and the northern and central components of the United States, and wintering within the U.S. Gulf Coast states, all of Florida into the Everglades, the Caribbean islands, and components of Central America.

American bittern profile

In this article, I am going to talk about American bittern profile, facts, habitat, vs green heron, in-flight, range, juvenile, size, vs least bittern, migration, etc.

The bittern bird is a well-camouflaged, solitary brown bird that unobtrusively inhabits marshes and the coarse vegetation on the fringe of lakes and ponds.

In the breeding season, it’s mainly noticeable by the loud, booming name of the male.

The nest is constructed simply above the water, often amongst bulrushes and cattails, the place the female incubates the clutch of olive-colored eggs for about 4 weeks.

The younger go away from the nest after two weeks and are totally fledged at six or seven weeks.

American bittern bird Description

The American bittern is a big, chunky, brown bird, similar to the Eurasian bittern (Botaurus stellaris), although barely smaller, and the plumage is speckled fairly than being barred.

It is 58–85 cm (23–33 in) in size, with a 92–115 cm (36–45 in) wingspan and a body mass of 370–1,072 g (0.816–2.363 lb).

The crown of the bittern bird is chestnut brown with the facilities of the feathers being black.

The facet of the neck has a bluish-black elongated patch which is bigger within the male than within the feminine.

The hind neck is olive, and the mantle and scapulars are darkish chestnut-brown, barred and speckled with black, some feathers being edged with buff.

Then back, rump and higher tail-coverts are related in color however more finely speckled with black and with gray bases to the feathers.

The tail feathers are chestnut brown with speckled edges, and the primaries and secondaries are blackish-brown with buff or chestnut suggestions.

The cheeks are brown with a buff superciliary stripe and an equally colored mustachial stripe.

The chin is creamy-white with a chestnut central stripe, and the feathers of the throat, breast, and higher stomach are buff and rust-colored, finely outlined with black, giving a striped impact to the underparts. The eyes are surrounded by yellowish pores and skin, and the iris is pale yellow.

The lengthy, sturdy bill is yellowish-green, the higher mandible being darker than the decrease, and the legs and ft are yellowish-green. Juveniles resemble adults, however, the sides of their necks are much less olive.

Distribution and migration

American bittern birds vary contains a lot of North America. It breeds in southern Canada as far north as British Columbia, the Great Slave Lake and Hudson Bay, and in a lot of the United States and probably central Mexico.

American bittern bird migrates southward within the fall and overwinters within the southern United States of the Gulf Coast area, most notably within the marshy Everglades of Florida, the Caribbean Islands, and Mexico, with previous information additionally coming from Panama and Costa Rica.

As a long-distance migrant, it’s a very uncommon vagrant in Europe, together with Great Britain and Ireland.

It is an aquatic bird and frequents bogs, marshes, and the thickly-vegetated verges of shallow-water lakes and ponds, each with recent and brackish or saline water.

It generally feeds out within the open in moist meadows and pastures.

American bittern bird Behavior

The American bittern is a solitary bird and often retains itself well-hidden and is tough to watch.

It often hunts by strolling stealthily in shallow water and among the many vegetation, stalking its prey, however generally it stands nonetheless in ambush.

If it senses that it has been seen, it stays immobile, with its bill pointed upward, its cryptic coloration inflicting it to mix into the encircling foliage. It is especially nocturnal and is most energetic at nightfall.

More usually heard than seen, the male bittern has a loud, booming name that resembles a congested pump and which has been rendered as “oong, kach, oonk”.

While uttering this sound, the bird’s head is thrown convulsively upward after which ahead, and the sound is repeated as much as seven occasions.

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American bittern Call and Sounds

The course by which the bittern produces its distinctive sound shouldn’t be totally understood.

It has been recommended that the bird step by step puffs out its neck by inflating its esophagus with air accompanied by a gentle clicking or hiccuping sound.

The esophagus is saved inflated by the use of flaps beside the tongue in order to facilitate the American bittern call.

Once this motion is accomplished and the esophagus is totally inflated, the distinctive gulping sound is made within the syrinx.

When the sound is completed, the bird deflates its esophagus for American bittern call

American bittern bird Diet

Mostly fish and different aquatic life. Eats fish (together with catfish, eels, killifish, perch), frogs, tadpoles, aquatic bugs, crayfish, crabs, salamanders, garter snakes.

American bittern bird is seen catching flying dragonflies. In drier habitats could eat rodents, particularly voles.

Like different members of the heron household, the American bittern feeds in marshes and shallow ponds, preying primarily on fish but additionally consuming amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, crustaceans, and bugs.

American bittern bird is a territorial bird and has a menacing show which includes slowly erecting lengthy, white, previously-concealed, plumes on its shoulders, to kind wing-like extensions that just about meet throughout its back, resembling a ruff.

The bird then stands nonetheless in a threatening posture, or stalks the intruder in a crouching place, with its head retracted and a gliding gait.

American bittern

Feeding Behavior

The bittern bird forages principally by standing nonetheless at the fringe of water, generally by strolling slowly, capturing prey with a sudden thrust of the bill.

American bittern bird may forage at any time of day or night time, maybe most actively at daybreak and nightfall.

The American bittern feeds totally on fish but additionally eats different small vertebrates in addition to crustaceans and bugs.

American bittern bird is pretty widespread over its wide selection, however, its numbers are regarded as lowering, particularly within the south, due to habitat degradation.

However the whole inhabitants are massive, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation standing as being of “Least Concern”.


Marshes, reedy lakes. Breeds in freshwater marshes, primarily massive, shallow wetlands with a lot tall marsh vegetation (cattails, grasses, sedges) and areas of open shallow water.

Winters in related areas, additionally in brackish coastal marshes. Sometimes feeds in dry grassy fields.

Extensive freshwater marshes are the favored haunts of this massive, stout, solitary heron.

It is seldom seen because it slips via the reeds, however, its odd pumping or booming tune, usually heard at nightfall or at night time, carries for lengthy distances throughout the marsh.

American bittern bird Nest

This bird nests solitarily in marshes amongst coarse vegetation akin to bulrushes and cattails, with the feminine constructing the nest and the male guarding it.

The nest is often about 15 cm (6 in) above the water floor and consists of a tough platform of useless stalks and rushes, generally with a number of twigs blended in, and lined with bits of coarse grass. Up to about six eggs are laid and are incubated by the female for twenty-nine days.

American bittern bird Reproduction

The American Bittern is taken into account monogamous; nonetheless, it’s probably polygynous underneath some circumstances.

Pair formation happens in early May when the feminine arrives on the nesting site.

The feminine then chooses the nest website, which is often in dense emergent vegetation over water that’s 4-5 cm in depth.

The American bittern bird nest is constructed by the feminine and is constructed of reeds, sedges, cattail, or different emergent vegetation.

Egg laying is carried out every day with one egg laid in the morning. Incubation begins earlier than the total clutch is laid and lasts 24 to 28 days.

Brooding and feeding duties are carried out solely by the female. The hatchlings go away from the nest after one to 2 weeks, however, they obtain supplemental feedings by the adults as much as 4 weeks after hatching.


The eggs are bluntly ovoid in form, olive-buff, and unspeckled, averaging 49 by 37 mm (1.93 by 1.46 in) in measurement.


Evidently solely feminine care for younger, feeding them by regurgitation of partly-digested objects.

Young American bittern bird could go away from the nest after 1-2 weeks, however, stay close by and are fed as much as the age of 4 weeks. Age at first flight unknown, probably 7-8 weeks.

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