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American Bittern

Posted on Nov 24, 2015

This is the American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus), a stupendously cryptic and sensationally camouflaged heron species of freshwater and brackish marshes and wetlands. During late fall and winter they can be infrequently found moving south to warmer or coastal areas where the water does not freeze. Even their movements are meant to blend in perfectly to surrounding vegetation, stalking prey including fish, amphibians, insects, mammals, reptiles, and more.

American Bittern November-9646

American Bittern November-9644

American Bittern November-9623

American Bittern November-9601

American Bittern November-9579

American Bittern November-9554

The American Bittern was once a terror in the night to many early American settlers who lived in coastal regions. Its pumping, gurgling, resounding and emphatic call would horrify colonists, as if a deadly demon were beckoning them from the marshes. The noise would often draw them to arms, men dashing into the haunted lands to find and slay this terrible beast. I am betting that most of the birds were able to easily elude their would-be attackers in the pitch black darkness, thankfully, and now we appreciate these secretive stalkers.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator