American Bittern
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General description.

Heavy bodied and short legged, this shy, solitary heron, when alarmed, points its neck skyward, blending into the fresh and brackash water marsh reeds it inhabits. It forages at dusk and is very elusive, yet when sighted, the American Bittern usually appears sitting hunched over like an old man.

Juvenile appearance.

Similar, sans the neck mark.

Flight pattern.

Low flying over marshes.

Breeding habits.


Calls or song.

During breeding season, the American Bitter emits a loud, distinctive call - "ooomm-ka-chooom", the middle note sounding like a hammer hitting metal. He is able to produce this sound due to a modified esophagus.

Population and distribution.

Breeds and summers in Canada and the northern part of the United States, migrating south in winter. American Bittern numbers are declining as wetlands disappear.

Nesting habits.

The American Bittern builds a plaited nest of dried material deep in the reedbed. It is nearly three feet in diameter, containing one to seven eggs. Chicks are cared for by both parents until 25 days when they fledge.
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