Occasionally, nests are placed in grasslands or fields next to wetlands. The chin is creamy-white with a chestnut central stripe, and the feathers of the throat, breast, and upper belly are buff and rust-colored, finely outlined with black, giving a striped effect to the underparts. Its range includes much of North America. The cheeks are brown with a buff superciliary stripe and a similarly colored mustachial stripe. During breeding, they prefer marshlands and ephemeral wetlands, but also forage in wet meadows and along shorelines, often preferring areas with much plant cover and open water. Bittern populations on the Great Plains and in the Rocky Mountains have been poorly studied. THE AMERICAN BITTERN SEASON BY SEASON. American bitterns return to New York in early spring to establish breeding territories in interior freshwater wetlands and occasionally coastal salt marshes. When the sound is finished, the bird deflates its esophagus. It is seldom seen as it slips through the reeds, but its odd pumping or booming song, often heard at dusk or at night, carries for long distances across the marsh. 1989; Gibbs and Melvin 1992), and the species is listed as a Bird of Conserva- tion Concern throughout parts of its range (U.S. Similar Species. Most bitterns bear a camouflage patternâstreaks of variegated brown and buffâwhich enables them to escape detection by standing upright with bill pointed upward, imitating the reeds and grasses of their habitat. American bitterns have a distinctive loud booming call, "unk-a-chunk, unk-a-chunk" sounding like a machine. This species uses resounding calls to communicate. This species is very secretive, in addition to being a master of camouflage. This stocky bird seems to materialize among reeds and to disappear as quickly, particularly when in its concealment pose, where it stretches its neck and points its bill skyward. Breeding throughout the southern Canada and the northern United States, the American bittern typically migrates north in March and April. The eggs are bluntly ovoid in shape, olive-buff and unspeckled, averaging 49 by 37 mm (1.93 by 1.46 in) in size. Raising one brood each year, the female bittern incubates 2-7 eggs for 24-29 days. The American bittern feeds mostly on fish but also eats other small vertebrates as well as crustaceans and insects. It is mainly nocturnal and is most active at dusk. Breeding Habitat. It is 58–85 cm (23–33 in) in length, with a 92–115 cm (36–45 in) wingspan and a body mass of 370–1,072 g (0.816–2.363 lb). With those two characteristics and its preferred habitat of nesting deep in densely vegetated wetlands it is a hard species to detect. It walks slowly and stealthily. The American Bittern is primarily found in Tennessee during migration, so its distinctive, deep pumping oonk-kadoonk song is seldom heard here. The American Bittern breeds in wetlands in much of southern and central Canada and the northern United States. American bitterns are carnivores, they mainly eat insects, amphibians, crayfish, small fish and mammals. In winter, these birds migrate south to Central America and the northernmost Caribbean islands. They feed upon fish, frogs, crayfish, and other small swamp and marsh animals, which they spear with their sharp-pointed bills.  No subspecies are accepted today; however, fossils found in the Ichetucknee River in Florida, and originally described as a new form of heron (Palaeophoyx columbiana; McCoy, 1963) were later recognized to be a smaller, prehistoric subspecies of the American bittern which lived during the Late Pleistocene (Olson, 1974) and would thus be called B. l. columbianus. It has been suggested that the bird gradually puffs out its neck by inflating its esophagus with air accompanied by a mild clicking or hiccuping sound. The American Bittern population is undergoing a substantial decline due to loss and degredation of habitat. Least Bittern. , The American bittern is a solitary bird and usually keeps itself well-hidden and is difficult to observe. BEHAVIOR: The American Bittern spends most of its time hidden among marshland vegetation. American bitterns seem to prefer to breed in extensive freshwater marshes, especially those with dense stands of cattails and thick patches of bulrushes, grasses and sedges and pockets of open water. This bird makes its habitat in marshes. The hind neck is olive, and the mantle and scapulars are dark chestnut-brown, barred and speckled with black, some feathers being edged with buff. American bittern profile. They prefer wetlands with thick cattail and bulrush, mixed with areas of open water. Look for edges within the heart of the marsh, and focus your search along channels, shallow pools, and clearings. Crypsis means to avoid observation, in this case by the bitternâs prey. If it senses that it has been seen, it remains motionless, with its bill pointed upward, its cryptic coloration causing it to blend into the surrounding foliage. The American bittern occurs widely across Central and North America. Loss of wetland habitats is given as the primary cause of population decline. The American bittern breeds in wetlands across much of the United States and Canada. HABITAT IN MASSACHUSETTS: The American Bittern inhabits freshwater marshes, meadows, fens and bogs dominated by emergent vegetation such as cattails, bulrushes, sedges, and grasses. Only the female carries out brooding and feeding duties. Fed by both parents, the hatchlings remain â¦ The nest is built just above the water, usually among bulrushes and cattails, where the female incubates the clutch of olive-colored eggs for about four weeks. American bittern literature, most of which comes from studies in the upper Midwestern states in the United States. Distribution: The American Bittern is the largest member of the bittern family. American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus), a Special Concern species in Wisconsin, is a medium-sized wading bird with a stout body, long neck and bill. It points its bill to the sky, stretches out its body, and will even sway with the breeze, in order to blend in with the reedy surroundings. Although it uses a variety of grassland and wetland habitats during the breeding season, in late summer it confines itself largely to the dense cover and protection of wetlands when it undergoes a nearly complete molt that leaves it flightless (Figure 5; Azure 1998). In the summer it is found in the north as far as Alaska, and Newfoundland and central British Columbia in Canada. It breeds in southern Canada as far north as British Columbia, the Great Slave Lake and Hudson Bay, and in much of the United States and possibly central Mexico. Pair formation takes place in early May when females arrive at the nesting area. Seen from Newfoundland and Labrador, northeastern coast of Quebec through to James Bay. Using its eyes in this way presumably increases its ability to detect and capture prey. These moves can escalate into a chase in the air, the combatants spiraling upwards, while trying to stab their opponent with their bill. It migrates southward in the fall and overwinters in the southern United States of the Gulf Coast region, most notably in the marshy Everglades of Florida, the Caribbean Islands and Mexico, with past records also coming from Panama and Costa Rica. It breeds in freshwater wetlands across Canada and more sparsely across the northern half of the United States. Its closest living relative is the pinnated bittern (Botaurus pinnatus) from Central and South America. This is particularly noticeable in the southern part where chemical contamination and human development are reducing the area of suitable habitat. The hatchlings leave their nest in one to two weeks, but receive supplemental feeding for up to another four weeks after hatching. Habitat Requirements: The American bittern prefers wetlands that provide both feeding and nesting resources (Gibbs and Melvin 1992). This elusive species overwinters in wetlands along the sâ¦ Life Expectancy: Approximately 8 years of age. Habitat: The American bittern inhabits freshwater marshes and the edges of lakes and ponds with tall aquatic vegetation, such as cattails or maidencane. The staff decided to release the bittern that same day. The female chooses her nest site, usually amongst dense emergent vegetation above water of a depth of 4-5 cm. In the winter and during migration, it can be found in salt marshes. Juveniles resemble adults, but the sides of their necks are less olive. The male will arch his back, shorten his neck, dip his breast forward, and "boom" at the female. These stealthy carnivores stand motionless amid tall marsh vegetation, or patiently stalk fish, frogs, and insects. Each species account is written by leading ornithologists and provides detailed information on bird distribution, migration, habitat, diet, sounds, behavior, breeding, current population status, and conservation. In the summer it is found in the north as far as Alaska, and Newfoundland and central British Columbia in Canada. Once this action is completed and the esophagus is fully inflated, the distinctive gulping sound is made in the syrinx. Green Herons are often found perched in trees. American Bittern Species Description Identification The American bittern is a type of heron with a haunting low-frequency dunk-a-doo vocalization that sounds similar to a metal stake being driven into mud. It breeds in southern Canada as far north as British Columbia, the Great Slave Lake and Hudson Bay, and in much of the United States and possibly central Mexico.  However, the bird has an extremely large range and a large total population, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being of "Least Concern". It is fairly common over its wide range, but its numbers are thought to be decreasing, especially in the south, because of habitat degradation. , The generic name Botaurus was given by English naturalist James Francis Stephens, and is derived from Medieval Latin butaurus, "bittern", constructed from the Middle English name for the Eurasian bittern, botor. It may also occur in brackish wetlands. As a long-distance migrant, it is a very rare vagrant in Europeâ¦ It has an unmistakable call, sounding more like a water drain emptying than a bird call. 2.  The American bittern is protected under the United States Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Habitat quality has also been eroded by stabilized water regimes and changes in wetland isolation. Conservation status. Its yellow eyes turn orange during the breeding season. Male and female do not really interact with each other except for copulation, though a female may site her nest close to a "booming" male in order to distract predators from her hatchlings. 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. It sometimes feeds out in the open in wet meadows and pastures. Wingspan: 42 inches. The American Bittern is much larger and has rich brown underparts set off by black neck streaks. This streaky, brown and buff heron can materialize among the reeds, and disappear as quickly, especially when striking a concealment pose with neck stretched and bill pointed skyward. The young leave the nest after two weeks and are fully fledged at six or seven weeks. They have earned many nicknames for their eerie calls: "mire-drum", "stake-driver", and "thunder-pumper". The bird then stands still in a threatening posture, or stalks the intruder in a crouching position, with its head retracted and a gliding gait. Spring. The American bittern is a large, chunky, brown bird, very similar to the Eurasian bittern (Botaurus stellaris), though slightly smaller, and the plumage is speckled rather than being barred. The Least Bittern is smaller, lacks the bold, checkered pattern on the back of the American Bittern. It usually hunts by walking stealthily in shallow water and among the vegetation, stalking its prey, but sometimes it stands still in ambush. In winter, these birds migrate south to Central America and the northernmost Caribbean islands. , The bird's numbers are declining in many parts of its range because of habitat loss. The American bittern is found in freshwater and brackish marshes and swamps. In the winter, they can be found in a wider range of habitats, including flooded willow and salt marshes. Botaurus lentiginosus. , International Union for Conservation of Nature, 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012-1.RLTS.T22697340A40248721.en, "The fossil avifauna of Itchtucknee River, Florida", "List of Migratory Bird Species Protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as of December 2, 2013", north-american-bittern-botaurus-lentiginosus, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=American_bittern&oldid=981855519, Pages containing links to subscription-only content, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 4 October 2020, at 20:18. The Division of Wildlifeâs mission is to conserve and improve fish and wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainable use and appreciation by all. The American bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) is a species of wading bird in the heron family. During migration, bitterns can visit a variety of wet habitats including small marshes, ditches and wet meadows. The eyes are surrounded by yellowish skin, and the iris is pale yellow. According to the What Bird resource, the total population size of the American bittern is around 3 million individuals. , The crown is chestnut brown with the centers of the feathers being black. It is a territorial bird and has a threat display which involves slowly erecting long, white, previously-concealed, plumes on its shoulders, to form wing-like extensions that nearly meet across its back, resembling a ruff. ), or bulrushes (Scirpus sp.). The population of American bitterns is undergoing a major decline due to degradation and loss of habitat. The American bittern occurs widely across Central and North America. Where to watch: Large marshes, protected areas with more than 40 acres of marsh.Seek out beds of cattails, reeds, or grass in shallow water up to a foot deep. Preferred Habitat: Least bitterns thrive in dense marshland ecosystems containing cattails and reeds, along the coast and inland, where they feed primarily on small fish, amphibians, insects and small mammals. They build nests on the ground or on slightly raised platforms of thick vegetation. Amber, along with several extern students and volunteers, transported the bittern to a marshy habitat west of Staunton for release. American Bittern. The chicks are fed individually, each in turn pulling down the female's beak and receiving regurgitated food directly into its beak. Extensive freshwater marshes are the favored haunts of this large, stout, solitary heron. As a long-distance migrant, it is a very rare vagrant in Europe, including Great Britain and Ireland. These stealthy birds stand motionless amongst tall marsh vegetation, or will patiently stalk fish, frogs, or insects.