Shy guy

It’s always exciting to spot a secretive American Bittern stalking around in the marsh. Unlike other herons who will often fly off when disturbed, the well-camouflaged Bittern will frequently stay right where it is, trying ever so hard to hide amongst the tall leaves. E7D1E7EA-9F2F-4133-8CB4-635295B1CF78_1_201_aTo enhance the effect of pretending to be part of the plant life, “alarmed birds ‘skypoint’, swaying with the same motion as the surrounding wetland vegetation.” (Birds of Eastern North America, Sterry & Small, 2009). If you’re really lucky, he’ll stay right there, hiding in plain sight, till you take a few photos 😉. Eventually, though, he’ll slink away and hide deeper in the foliage, like this beautiful charmer above did. 

American Bitterns are known for their unusual, loud pumping ‘ong-a-chunk’ sound usually heard at night, but also in daylight hours during breeding season (Audubon Field Guide, Eastern Region, 2011). I’ve observed the stealthy American Bitterns on many occasions in our freshwater marshes and wetlands, but have rarely heard their unique vocalizations – maybe because they winter here in Florida, but breed much further north. 82992DD9-E7C8-41D7-AB94-D29C0DED94A6_1_201_aWatch and listen here for a 2-minute snippet of  the American Bittern‘s “…bizarre, resonant three-syllable pump-er-lunk call with a liquid quality.”  You can learn much more about this shy and elusive wading bird on All About Birds and Audubon.org.

27 thoughts on “Shy guy

  1. They blend so well with the background, it’s incredible. I wonder, how many of these birds I have missed in my travels. Great shots as always, Carol. 🙂

  2. Your American Bittern is very similar to our Aussie one, and just as shy. They appear to have the same behaviour characteristics. Many birders are still trying to add Bittern to their lifer list due to its sleuth behaviour. Yes, the amazing thing is it can be right next to you looking at you with its head skyward and you just can’t recognize it. They are beautiful birds in flight also. A great find BJ 🙂

    • I always enjoy hearing from you, AB – thanks! Agreed about those stealthy behaviors, and yes…. they are so distinctive in flight, but so hard to predict when one might just pop up out of the marsh and fly off!

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