These first three images are some of the still-fuzzy Least Bittern fledglings that were clambering about in the marsh last week – tiny little white feathers still popping through their dark chestnut plumage.
The nest was hidden out of view of the boardwalk, so it’s unclear just how old they were here, but 4 or 5 were making themselves visible, winding their way in and out of the arrowhead plants.
Least Bittern “young may leave nest as early as 6 days after hatching if disturbed; ordinarily remain in nest for about 2 weeks, and near nest for another week or more.” (Audubon.org)
A day or two later, I didn’t see any more young, but I spotted this beautiful adult male, sunning himself on the far side of the marsh.
“The furtive Least Bittern is often little more than a voice in the reeds that is frustratingly difficult to locate.” (All About Birds) “One of the smallest herons in the world, adapted for life in dense marshes. Rather than wading in the shallows like most herons, the Least Bittern climbs about in cattails and reeds, clinging to the stems with its long toes.” (Audubon.org)