The American bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) is a species of wading bird in the heron family. It has a Nearctic distribution, breeding in Canada and the northern and central parts of the United States, and wintering in the U.S. Gulf Coast states, all of Florida into the Everglades, the Caribbean islands and parts of Central America.
It is a well-camouflaged, solitary brown bird that unobtrusively inhabits marshes and the coarse vegetation at the edge of lakes and ponds. In the breeding season it is chiefly noticeable by the loud, booming call of the male. The nest is built just above the water, usually among bulrushes and cattails, where the female incubates the clutch of olive-colored eggs for about four weeks. The young leave the nest after two weeks and are fully fledged at six or seven weeks.
The American bittern feeds mostly on fish but also eats other small vertebrates as well as crustaceans and insects. It is fairly common over its wide range, but its numbers are thought to be decreasing, especially in the south, because of habitat degradation. However the total population is large, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being of "Least Concern".
|Range of B. lentiginosus Breeding range Year-round range Wintering range|
The American bittern is a large, chunky, brown bird, very similar to the Eurasian bittern (Botaurus stellaris), though slightly smaller, and the plumage is speckled rather than being barred. It is 58–85 cm (23–33 in) in length, with a 92–115 cm (36–45 in) wingspan and a body mass of 370–1,072 g (0.816–2.363 lb).
The crown is chestnut brown with the centers of the feathers being black. The side of the neck has a bluish-black elongated patch which is larger in the male than in the female. The hind neck is olive, and the mantle and scapulars are dark chestnut-brown, barred and speckled with black, some feathers being edged with buff. The back, rump, and upper tail-coverts are similar in color but more finely speckled with black and with grey bases to the feathers. The tail feathers are chestnut brown with speckled edges, and the primaries and secondaries are blackish-brown with buff or chestnut tips. The cheeks are brown with a buff superciliary stripe and a similarly colored mustachial stripe. The chin is creamy-white with a chestnut central stripe, and the feathers of the throat, breast, and upper belly are buff and rust-colored, finely outlined with black, giving a striped effect to the underparts. The eyes are surrounded by yellowish skin, and the iris is pale yellow. The long, robust bill is yellowish-green, the upper mandible being darker than the lower, and the legs and feet are yellowish-green. Juveniles resemble adults, but the sides of their necks are less olive.
The American bittern was first described in 1813 by the English clergyman Thomas Rackett from a vagrant individual he examined in Dorset, England. No subspecies are accepted today; however, fossils found in the Ichetucknee River in Florida, and originally described as a new form of heron (Palaeophoyx columbiana; McCoy, 1963) were later recognized to be a smaller, prehistoric subspecies of the American bittern which lived during the Late Pleistocene (Olson, 1974) and would thus be called B. l. columbianus. Its closest living relative is the pinnated bittern (Botaurus pinnatus) from Central and South America.
The generic name Botaurus was given by English naturalist James Francis Stephens, and is derived from Medieval Latin butaurus, "bittern", constructed from the Middle English name for the Eurasian bittern, botor. Pliny gave a fanciful derivation from Bos (ox) and taurus (bull), because the bittern's call resembles the bellowing of a bull. The species name lentiginosus is Latin for "freckled", from lentigo, "freckle", and refers to the speckled plumage.
Many of the folk names are given for its distinctive call; In his book on the common names of American birds, Ernest Choate lists "bog bumper" and "stake driver", and other vernacular names include "thunder pumper" and "bog bull".
Its range includes much of North America. It breeds in southern Canada as far north as British Columbia, the Great Slave Lake and Hudson Bay, and in much of the United States and possibly central Mexico. It migrates southward in the fall and overwinters in the southern United States of the Gulf Coast region, most notably in the marshy Everglades of Florida, the Caribbean Islands and Mexico, with past records also coming from Panama and Costa Rica. As a long-distance migrant, it is a very rare vagrant in Europe, including Great Britain and Ireland. It is an aquatic bird and frequents bogs, marshes and the thickly-vegetated verges of shallow-water lakes and ponds, both with fresh and brackish or saline water. It sometimes feeds out in the open in wet meadows and pastures.
The American bittern is a solitary bird and usually keeps itself well-hidden and is difficult to observe. It usually hunts by walking stealthily in shallow water and among the vegetation, stalking its prey, but sometimes it stands still in ambush. If it senses that it has been seen, it remains motionless, with its bill pointed upward, its cryptic coloration causing it to blend into the surrounding foliage. It is mainly nocturnal and is most active at dusk. More often heard than seen, the male bittern has a loud, booming call that resembles a congested pump and which has been rendered as "oong, kach, oonk". While uttering this sound, the bird's head is thrown convulsively upward and then forward, and the sound is repeated up to seven times.
The process by which the bittern produces its distinctive sound is not fully understood. It has been suggested that the bird gradually puffs out its neck by inflating its esophagus with air accompanied by a mild clicking or hiccuping sound. The esophagus is kept inflated by means of flaps beside the tongue. Once this action is completed and the esophagus is fully inflated, the distinctive gulping sound is made in the syrinx. When the sound is finished, the bird deflates its esophagus.
Like other members of the heron family, the American bittern feeds in marshes and shallow ponds, preying mainly on fish but also consuming amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, crustaceans and insects. It is a territorial bird and has a threat display which involves slowly erecting long, white, previously-concealed, plumes on its shoulders, to form wing-like extensions that nearly meet across its back, resembling a ruff. The bird then stands still in a threatening posture, or stalks the intruder in a crouching position, with its head retracted and a gliding gait.
This bird nests solitarily in marshes among coarse vegetation such as bulrushes and cattails, with the female building the nest and the male guarding it. The nest is usually about 15 cm (6 in) above the water surface and consists of a rough platform of dead stalks and rushes, sometimes with a few twigs mixed in, and lined with bits of coarse grass. Up to about six eggs are laid and are incubated by the female for twenty-nine days. The eggs are bluntly ovoid in shape, olive-buff and unspeckled, averaging 49 by 37 mm (1.93 by 1.46 in) in size. The chicks are fed individually, each in turn pulling down the female's beak and receiving regurgitated food directly into its beak. They leave the nest at about two weeks and are fully-fledged at six to seven weeks.
The bird's numbers are declining in many parts of its range because of habitat loss. This is particularly noticeable in the southern part where chemical contamination and human development are reducing the area of suitable habitat. However, the bird has an extremely large range and a large total population, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being of "Least Concern". The American bittern is protected under the United States Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. It is also protected under the Canadian Migratory Birds Convention Act of 1994 to which both Canada and the United States are signatories.
The Adirondack Mountains form a massif in northeastern New York, United States. Its boundaries correspond to the boundaries of Adirondack Park. The mountains form a roughly circular dome, about 160 miles (260 km) in diameter and about 1 mile (1,600 m) high. The current relief owes much to glaciation.Allenton State Wildlife Area
The Allenton State Wildlife Area is a state park in Wisconsin along the East Branch of the Rock River (Mississippi River) tributary of the Mississippi River in western Washington County, Wisconsin. The area was once a glacial lake and is now a wooded bottomland. It is popular with birders and is part of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail. Theresa Marsh and its state Wildlife Area is to the park's north.The Wildlife Area includes habitat used by sandhill crane, marsh wren, swamp sparrow and snow geese. Rare species include the rough-legged hawk, northern harrier, bobolink and American bittern.Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
The Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is a wildlife conservation area along the coast of Texas (USA), west of the town of High Island, Texas. It borders East Bay, part of the Galveston Bay complex, behind Bolivar Peninsula at the Gulf of Mexico.
Established in 1963, this wildlife refuge is located on the upper Texas Coast in Chambers County. The refuge protects approximately 34,000 acres (140 km2) of coastal marsh and prairies. The refuge offers opportunities for fishing, waterfowl hunting, paddling, and wildlife viewing. A large network of volunteers contributes thousands of hours in support of the refuge.
In the winter, the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge hosts large concentrations of waterfowl making it a popular site for public hunting.
Other signature species are American alligator, bobcat, yellow rail, and purple gallinule.
Birdwatchers find the refuge an excellent place to observe neotropical migrants in the spring and fall. Other species sought by birdwatchers include American bittern, seaside sparrow, fulvous whistling-duck, and black rail.
Volunteers have been working to compile a butterfly list for the refuge. Over sixty species have been identified, including the extremely localized bay skipper (Euphyes bayensis).
Recent projects to enhance and restore the habitat at the refuge include control of invasive species like Chinese Tallow, prairie restoration, creation of moist soil areas, and a colonial waterbird rookery.Three other national wildlife refuges on the Texas coast - Brazoria, San Bernard and Big Boggy - form a vital complex of coastal wetlands harboring more than 300 bird species.
Anahuac NWR is one of more than 560 refuges that comprise the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System, a national network of lands and waters set aside for the benefit of wildlife. It has been designated as a site of international importance to shorebirds by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN). The refuge is designated as part of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, a network of trails and wildlife viewing sites established by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.Arapaho National Forest
Arapaho National Forest is a National Forest located in north-central Colorado, United States. The facility is managed jointly with the Roosevelt National Forest and the Pawnee National Grassland from the United States Forest Service office in Fort Collins, Colorado. It has a wildlife refuge which manages a protection for all birds and mammals. The combined facility of 1,730,603 acres (2,704.07 sq mi, or 7,420.35 km²) is denoted as ARP (Arapaho, Roosevelt, Pawnee) by the Forest Service. Separately, Arapaho National Forest consists of 723,744 acres (1,130.85 sq mi, or 2,928.89 km²).The forest is located in the Rocky Mountains, straddling the continental divide in the Front Range west of Denver. It was established on July 1, 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt and named for the Arapaho tribe of Native Americans which previously inhabited the Colorado Eastern Plains. The forest includes part of the high Rockies and river valleys in the upper watershed of the Colorado River and South Platte River. The forest is largely in Grand and Clear Creek counties, but spills over into neighboring (in descending order of land area) Gilpin, Park, Routt, Jackson, and Jefferson counties. There are local ranger district offices located in Granby and Idaho Springs.Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge
The Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge is a United States National Wildlife Refuge located in north central Colorado. It is one of over 560 national wildlife refuges which manages and protects natural resources for future generations. The refuge is located in North Park in central Jackson County south of the town of Walden. The refuge was established in 1967 to furnish waterfowl with a suitable place to nest and rear their young. It was created in part to offset losses of nesting habitat in the prairie wetland region of the Midwest. It is located in the valley of the Illinois River, a tributary of the North Platte River. It is administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge
Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge is located in the U.S. state of North Dakota. Arrowwood NWR is a part of the Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge Complex, and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge parallels 16 miles (27 km) of the James River and is a mixture of wetlands, forest and prairie. Efforts to ensure the refuge continues to provide prime nesting habitat for waterfowl include prescribed fire, haying, crop cultivation and livestock grazing. The refuge has forests with oak and hackberry which are uncommon on the prairie. It is believed that the name for the refuge is derived from Native American naming for arrow wood, as the wood in the forest was prized for the making of arrows.During spring and fall migrations, between 90 and 100,000 waterfowl may be on the refuge. Over 100 species of birds have been spotted in the refuge. More than a dozen species of ducks and wading birds have been documented. The most common waterfowl usually seen include the Canada geese, mallards, pintails, blue-winged teal, shovelers, and gadwall. Other bird species that are relatively common include grebe, double-crested cormorant, great blue heron, black-crowned night heron, and American bittern. Other shorebirds such as the plover are also common.
Mammals such as white-tailed deer, badger, skunk, beaver, raccoon, mink, muskrat, along with other grassland dwellers such as the exotic ring-necked pheasant, and sharp-tailed grouse.
The refuge permits hunting and fishing in season and with proper permit. Hunting is legal but only for deer, upland game birds such as grouse, fox and rabbits. There is a 5.5 mile (9.7 km) nature trail that leads from the visitor centor, although it may be closed during certain times of the year such as during the nesting season.Arrowwood Wetland Management District
Arrowwood Wetland Management District is located in the U.S. state of North Dakota. Arrowwood WMD is a part of the Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge Complex, and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The district consists of 28 Waterfowl Production Areas, 314 Wetland easements (cooperative arrangements with private landowners), one easement refuge known as Johnson Lake National Wildlife Refuge and another four easements through the Farmers Home Administration, altogether totalling 28,922 acres (117 km2).
Arrowwood WMD is in the center of what is known as the prairie–potholes country. When the ice ages ended 15,000 years ago, the weight of the glacial ice had displaced the soil beneath them, creating depressions which later filled up with water into countless lakes and ponds. In the centuries since, migratory birds have come to depend on these wetlands for food and as nesting areas. Over 250 species of birds have been spotted in the refuge. More than a dozen species of ducks and wading birds have been documented. The most common waterfowl usually seen include the Canada geese, mallards, pintails, blue-winged teal, shovelers, and gadwall. Other bird species that are relatively common include grebe, double-crested cormorant, great blue heron, black-crowned night heron, and American bittern. Other shorebirds such as the plover are also common.
Mammals such as white-tailed deer, badger, skunk, beaver, raccoon, mink, muskrat, coyote and sharp-tailed grouse, along with other grassland dwellers such as the exotic ring-necked pheasant, are known to exist in the wetland management district.
The refuge permits hunting and fishing in season and with proper permit. Hunting is legal but only for deer, upland game birds such as grouse, fox and rabbits.Bittern
Bitterns are birds belonging to the subfamily Botaurinae of the heron family Ardeidae. Bitterns tend to be shorter-necked and more secretive than other members of the family. They were called hæferblæte in Old English; the word "bittern" came to English from Old French butor, itself from Gallo-Roman butitaurus, a compound of Latin būtiō and taurus..
Bitterns usually frequent reed beds and similar marshy areas and feed on amphibians, reptiles, insects, and fish.
Unlike the similar storks, ibises, and spoonbills, herons, egrets, pelicans, and bitterns fly with their necks retracted, not outstretched.
The genus Ixobrychus contains mainly small species:
Little bittern, Ixobrychus minutus
Australian little bittern, Ixobrychus dubius
New Zealand little bittern, Ixobrychus novaezelandiae (extinct)
Cinnamon bittern, Ixobrychus cinnamomeus
Stripe-backed bittern, Ixobrychus involucris
Least bittern, Ixobrychus exilis
Yellow bittern, Ixobrychus sinensis
Schrenck's bittern, Ixobrychus eurhythmus
Dwarf bittern, Ixobrychus sturmii
Black bittern, Ixobrychus flavicollisThe genus Botaurus is the larger bitterns:
American bittern, Botaurus lentiginosa.
Eurasian bittern or great bittern, Botaurus stellaris
South American bittern, Botaurus pinnatus
Australasian bittern, Botaurus poiciloptilus
Botaurus hibbardi (fossil)The genus Zebrilus includes only one species:
Zigzag heron (or properly Zigzag bittern), Zebrilus undulatusBlack Tern Bog State Natural Area
Black Tern Bog State Natural Area is a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources-designated State Natural Area featuring 20 acres (8 ha) of quaking sphagnum bog surrounding two small seepage lakes situated in a pitted outwash plain. The bog is rich in plant species, such as sundews, pitcher plant, bogbean, and bog rosemary, as well as three species of bog orchids: swamp pink, grass pink, and rose pogonia. The state-endangered bog rush (Juncus stygius) also grows here. Birds known to nest here include black tern, American bittern, killdeer, and mallards.Botaurus
Botaurus is a genus of bitterns, a group of wading bird in the heron family Ardeidae. The genus name Botaurus was given by the English naturalist James Francis Stephens, and is derived from Medieval Latin butaurus, "bittern", itself constructed from the Middle English name for the Eurasian Bittern, Botor. Pliny gave a fanciful derivation from Bos (ox) and taurus (bull), because the bittern's call resembles the bellowing of a bull.The genus has a single representative species in each of North, Central and South America, Eurasia, and Australasia. The two northern species are partially migratory, with many birds moving south to warmer areas in winter.
The four Botaurus bitterns are all large chunky, heavily streaked brown birds which breed in large reed beds. Almost uniquely for predatory birds, the female rears the young alone. They are secretive and well-camouflaged, and despite their size they can be difficult to observe except for occasional flight views.
Like other bitterns, they eat fish, frogs, and similar aquatic life.Buttertubs Marsh
Buttertubs Marsh is a bird sanctuary in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada.
Located in the middle of the city of Nanaimo, the marsh covers approximately 100 acres (40 hectares). Within this is the 46 acre (18.7 hectare) Buttertubs Marsh Conservation Area, owned by the Nature Trust of British Columbia.
The marsh is man-made and is home to great blue herons, mallards, Canada geese, ring-necked ducks, hooded mergansers, American wigeons, violet-green swallows and red-winged blackbirds.
The sanctuary is Vancouver Island's only documented breeding site of American bittern.
Approximately half of the wetland area is privately owned, and efforts are underway to purchase the remaining land to protect it against development. Some residential development has already taken place on the eastern edge of the site.Cokeville Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
Cokeville Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is a National Wildlife Refuge of the United States located in Wyoming. It is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The refuge occupies 26,657 acres (106 km2) of wetlands along a 20 mile (32 km) stretch of the Bear River that is regarded as the finest redhead duck habitat in the region, and one of the best migratory bird sanctuaries in Wyoming. Other bird species known to inhabit the refuge include white-faced ibis, snowy egret, long-billed curlew, great blue heron, American bittern, and black-crowned night heron. bald and golden eagles as well as peregrine falcons nest on the refuge in spring and fall.
Cokeville Meadows is currently closed to the public except for a wildlife viewing station, because it is new and has no visitor services. Less than a third of the designated refuge lands are under U.S. Government administration, and the rest will be purchased from private landowners who agree to sell. The refuge is managed from the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge.
The refuge is located adjacent to U.S. Route 30, 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Cokeville, Wyoming.Eurasian bittern
The Eurasian bittern or great bittern (Botaurus stellaris) is a wading bird in the bittern subfamily (Botaurinae) of the heron family Ardeidae. There are two subspecies, the northern race (B. s. stellaris) breeding in parts of Europe and Asia, as well as on the northern coast of Africa, while the southern race (B. s. capensis) is endemic to parts of southern Africa. It is a secretive bird, seldom seen in the open as it prefers to skulk in reed beds and thick vegetation near water bodies. Its presence is apparent in the spring, when the booming call of the male during the breeding season can be heard. It feeds on fish, small mammals, fledgling birds, amphibians, crustaceans and insects.
The nest is usually built among reeds at the edge of bodies of water. The female incubates the clutch of eggs and feeds the young chicks, which leave the nest when about two weeks old. She continues to care for them until they are fully fledged some six weeks later.
With its specific habitat requirements and the general reduction in wetlands across its range, the population is thought to be in decline globally. However the decline is slow, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its overall conservation status as being of "least concern". Nevertheless, some local populations are at risk and the population of the southern race has declined more dramatically and is cause for concern. In the United Kingdom it is one of the most threatened of all bird species.Hercinia
Hercinia is a legendary bird with glowing feathers that inhabited the Hercynian Forest of ancient Germany.
The hercinia is depicted in Medieval bestiaries and was recorded in the 1st century by Pliny the Elder, who wrote, “In the Hercynian Forest, in Germany, we hear of a singular kind of bird, the feathers of which shine at night like fire.” Writing in the 7th century, Isidore of Seville notes, "Their feathers sparkle so much in the shade that, however dark the night is with thick shadows, these feathers, when placed on the ground, give off light that helps to mark the way, and the sign of the glittering feathers makes clear the direction of the path."Whether or not the hercinia was a real species of luminescent bird cannot be said with any degree of certainty. It is possible that the reports of the hercinia were based on sightings of birds with iridescent feathers that reflected moonlight, a phenomenon that has been reported of a number of species of birds, including the Barn Owl and the American Bittern. It is also possible that tales of the hercinia were based upon birds that carried in their feathers bioluminescent fungi or bacteria.
The legend of the glowing birds of the Hercynian forest has inspired various works of art, including Thomas Moore's poem, "A Dream of Antiquity."Least bittern
The least bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) is a small heron, the smallest member of the family Ardeidae found in the Americas.List of birds of Mont-Tremblant National Park
This lists the species of birds in Mont-Tremblant National Park in Quebec, Canada. The bolded species indicate that they are threatened in the area.List of fauna of Michigan
This is a list of fauna found in the U.S. State of Michigan, including those of wider distribution. See also List of threatened fauna of Michigan.Pinnated bittern
The pinnated bittern (Botaurus pinnatus), also known as the South American bittern, is a large member of the heron family (Ardeidae) found in the New World tropics. Like the other Botaurus bitterns, its plumage is mostly buffy-brown and cryptically patterned. Though it is a widespread species, it is rarely seen – presumably due to its skulking habits – and much about its life history remains little known.Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve
The Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve is a 740-acre (3.0 km2) site (including submerged areas) along the Mohawk River in the Town of Clifton Park, New York, near the hamlet of Vischer Ferry. It is owned by the New York State Canal Corporation, but Clifton Park maintains its extensive trail system under a special lease arrangement. The preserve also is known as Vischer Ferry Bird Conservation Area.
The preserve includes an original section of the Erie Canal and towpath, constructed in 1825. The main entrance to the preserve includes an 1862 Whipple Truss Bridge, a design commonly used to cross the Erie Canal.Numerous migratory bird species and at-risk bird species use the preserve as habitat. Among these species are:
Rusty blackbirdThe preserve also includes an abundance of flora, both native and invasive, from hazelnut to bloodroot to white campion.