Do you see it? One of the most secretive birds in the US. It is as big as a small chicken, and loves to hang out in wetland areas hunting frogs and small fish. Chances are, you will not know it is there until you accidentally flush it from its hiding spot. (:-D That is how I saw these by the way.)
Here, I'll zoom in a little do you see it now? A small white smudge near the middle of the image.
Still just too hidden to really make out. So I will zoom in all the way:
A Least Bittern. A common bird in the Eastern US. But due to it's secretive nature, it is not really seen that much. They live in the cattails and primarily hunt frogs and fish. Since they cling to the stalks of the Cattails, they can get to places that other classic water waders can't or choose not to.
The bittern's first best defense...is to do nothing. Flight and fight are not what a Bittern is known for. More like FREEZING is what they do....then flight if the threat continues towards them.
Which is why they are never really seen till they are flushed. They have seen you already, and have already frozen...hoping you go another way. But when you don't they fly to another spot and freeze again. Sometimes, as the picture of the juvenile demonstrates below, the new spot is not always the most hidden. But usually in a few seconds they are diving deeper into the weeds and becoming impossible to find.
So when you are in a area with a patch of Cattail...look deeper, there may be someone looking back at you. :-D
Click on any of the pictures to go to my Gallery of Least Bitterns. Also, if you would like more information about this elusive bird. It can be found on Cornell Labs' website All About Birds.
Sola Deo Gloria
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