American Bittern

Botaurus lentiginosus

Order

CICONIIFORMES

Family

Bitterns, Herons and Egrets (Ardeidae)

Code 4

AMBI

Code 6

BOTLEN

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The American Bittern it is actually native to a number of countries in North America as well as Central America and even in many other locales around the world. For example, it has also been reported in a number of European countries. The range of this bird is estimated to be more than 8 million square kilometers. With a global population of around 3 million individual birds, the American Bittern is not believed to be in any immediate danger of extinction. It is evaluated as Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

American Bittern: Medium, secretive, heron-like wading bird with stout body and neck, and relatively short legs. Upperparts are streaked brown and buff and underparts are white with brown streaks. Throat is white with black slashes on sides of neck. Strong direct flight with deep rapid wing beats.


Range and Habitat

American Bittern: Breeds from southeastern Alaska, Manitoba, and Newfoundland south to California, Kansas, and Pennsylvania. Spends winters from coastal British Columbia and the west coast to the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, and south to Costa Rica (rarely) and Greater Antilles. Preferred habitats include freshwater wetlands with tall emergent vegetation.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"oong-KA-chunk", "kok-kok-kok"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • The American Bittern has a remarkable, though rarely seen, courtship display. The male arches his back, shortens his neck, dips his breast forward, and "booms" at the female. Both birds engage in complicated aerial displays.
  • They prefer to freeze, not flush like other herons when approached. If an observer is nearby, they will often stretch their neck up, bill pointed towards the sky, and sway from side to side as if imitating waving reeds.
  • They use resounding calls to communicate. These eerie calls have earned them many nicknames: stake-driver, thunder-pumper, and mire-drum.
  • A group of bitterns has many collective nouns, including a "dash", "freeze", "pint", "pretense" and "siege" of bitterns.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP

CERange Map for American Bittern

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Michael Oberhofer

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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UnderpartsX

Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

UpperpartsX
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
PlumesX
Large, conspicuous, showy feathers.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X