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Public Domain Picture: American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)

Courtesy: US Fish & Wildlife Service
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American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)
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American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)
Credit: Sallie Gentry/USFWS Have you ever seen one of these majestic birds in the wild? This heron-like wading bird is often difficult to see because of its amazing camouflaged coloring. It is a very secretive species that hides easily by crouching low to the ground with it's neck pulled inward. It has a stout body and neck, but with relatively short legs. Weighing about 1.5 lb, this medium sized bird has a wingspan that can reach 42'. Unlike other waterfowl, both the male and the female look alike and the juvenile is very similar to the adult. The American Bittern is found all across the country but prefers habitats that include freshwater wetlands with tall emergent vegetation where they can hide. Although you may not see them, you would have no problem hearing them as Bitterns have a distinctive booming call that they use to communicate. These eerie calls have earned them many nicknames: stake-driver, thunder-pumper, and mire-drum. The American Bittern has a remarkable, though rarely seen, courtship display. The male arches his back, shortens his neck, dips his breast forward, and 'booms' at the female. Both birds engage in complicated aerial displays. If one was to be approached by a human, they prefer to freeze, not flush like other herons. If an observer is nearby, they will often stretch their neck up, bill pointed towards the sky, and sway from side to side as if imitating waving reeds.
Date Added:
April 18, 2014
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Produced by United States Government
The file available on this page is a work of the United States government. A work of the United States government, as defined by United States copyright law, is "a work prepared by an officer or employee of the U.S. government as part of that person's official duties." In general, under section 105 of the Copyright Act, such works are not entitled to domestic copyright protection under U.S. law.
US Fish & Wildlife Service

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US Fish & Wildlife Service (Flickr Photostream)
External Site: US Fish & Wildlife Service
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a bureau within the U.S. Department of the Interior. Its mission is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. USFWS National Digital Library The U.S. Fis
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