My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

American Bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

American Bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus

The American Bittern is a wading bird of the heron family.

It is a large, chunky, brown bird, very similar to the Eurasian Great Bittern (Botaurus stellaris), though slightly smaller. 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).

Although common in much of its range, the American Bittern is usually well-hidden in bogs, marshes and wet meadows. Usually solitary, it walks stealthily among cattails or bulrushes. If it senses that it has been seen, the American Bittern becomes motionless, with its bill pointed upward, causing it to blend into the reeds. It is most active at dusk. More often heard than seen, this bittern has a call that resembles a congested pump.

Like other members of the heron family, the American Bittern feeds in marshes and shallow ponds, dining on amphibians, fish, insects and reptiles.

This bittern winters in the southern United States and Central America. It summers throughout Canada and much of the United States. As a long-distance migrant, it is a very rare vagrant in Europe, including Great Britain and Ireland. This bird nests in isolated places with the female building the nest and the male guarding it. Two or three eggs are incubated by the female for 29 days, and the chicks leave after 6–7 weeks.

On to my photos:

 

American bittern in flight

American bittern in flight

American bittern in flight

American bittern in flight

American bittern in flight

American bittern in flight

American bittern in flight

American bittern in flight

American bittern in flight

American bittern in flight

American bittern in flight

American bittern in flight

American bittern in flight

American bittern in flight

American bittern in flight

American bittern in flight

This is number 158 in my photo life list, only 192 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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15 responses

  1. Fabulous shots of a remarkable bird.

    May 23, 2014 at 1:41 am

    • Thanks Simon!

      May 25, 2014 at 9:00 am

  2. It sounds like this one might have been a real challenge to capture. Great work!

    May 23, 2014 at 4:38 am

    • Thanks! I was lucky to have had them take off and fly or I probably never would have seen them.

      May 25, 2014 at 9:01 am

  3. Great shots of what for us is a rare bird!
    .
    In that situation I’d probably have had the autofocus in the wrong mode and wouldn’t have reacted in time.

    May 23, 2014 at 5:20 am

    • Thanks Bob! I did have the auto-focus in the wrong mode, but I’m lucky in that it happens a lot, and I’ve learned how to do it the wrong way. 😉

      May 25, 2014 at 9:03 am

  4. Looks like a distinctive profile in flight. Great shots, as always.

    May 23, 2014 at 7:46 am

    • Thanks Judy!

      May 25, 2014 at 9:03 am

  5. Little like a cross between a duck and a crane–or maybe that’s just me. Either way, a very special sort of bird. Thanks for sharing!

    May 23, 2014 at 9:15 am

    • Thanks Lori! They are in the heron family, other than color, they look like a great blue heron to me.

      May 25, 2014 at 9:04 am

  6. You got some great shots of this one!

    May 23, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    • Thanks Allen!

      May 25, 2014 at 9:05 am

  7. Strange bird and so exciting to see one! Good photos too. My husband and I went out to our local bird reserve yesterday and heard a European Bittern ‘booming’. A very distinctive noise.

    May 24, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    • Thanks Clare! You’re lucky to have heard that!

      May 25, 2014 at 9:06 am

  8. The images are awesome, and they embrace your words well!

    May 26, 2014 at 2:32 pm