Least Bittern

Ixobrychus exilis

Order

CICONIIFORMES

Family

Bitterns, Herons and Egrets (Ardeidae)

Code 4

LEBI

Code 6

IXOEXI

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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Copyright © 2004 - 2014 Mitch Waite Group

PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Least Bittern is rated as Least Concern at this time. This is a terrestrial bird species that has a large global range of up to 6 million square kilometers. The population of the Least Bittern is estimated at around 130,000 individuals. This bird is native to the Caribbean, North America, Central America and South America. The prior rating of the Least Bittern was Lower Risk. That rating was downgraded to Least Concern in 2004 as a result of the size and stability of the bird's range and population.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Least Bittern: Very small, secretive heron with black cap and back, and white throat and belly. Wings have conspicuous pale brown patches visible in flight. The bill, legs and feet are yellow. Feeds on fish, insects, small amphibians, crustaceans and invertebrates.


Range and Habitat

Least Bittern: Breeds in wetland areas throughout the central and eastern U.S., though is absent from the Appalachian Mountains, along the southern Pacific coast. Spends winters from the southern states south to Colombia. Resident in central Mexico and the West Indies. Found in dense marshlands supporting cattails and reeds.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"coo-coo-coo"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • The Least Bittern was first described in 1789 by Johann Friedrich Gmelin, a German naturalist, botanist and entomologist.
  • Thanks to its habit of straddling reeds, it can feed in water that would be too deep for the wading strategy of other herons.
  • When alarmed, it freezes in place with its bill pointed up, turns its front and both eyes toward the source of alarm, and sometimes sways to resemble wind-blown marsh vegetation.
  • 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 Least Bittern

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Yury Lisyak

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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BellyX
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
CapX
The area on top of the head of the bird.
PlumesX
Large, conspicuous, showy feathers.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X