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Dan Tallman’s Chook Weblog: American Bittern


All winter an American Bitter hung out along a small, grassy creek at the Billy Frank Jr National Wildlife Refuge. Despite a multitude of eBird reports, we only found the bird twice, most recently on 24 February 2022. In addition to being cryptically colored, bitterns often freeze when approached. We stood on a marsh overlook. Two birders exclaimed, “There’s a bittern!” Erika and I ran over and there in plain sight, calmly strolled a bittern.

At one point the bittern stopped, and leaned over to peer at something in the water. The bird, however, made no strike. Bitterns patiently await passing prey. The birds mostly hunt at dawn or dusk. Almost anything will do—insects, amphibians, crayfish, small fish or small mammals (Lowther et al. 2020). 

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