American Bittern: Medium, secretive, heron-like wading bird with stout body and neck, and relatively short legs. Upperparts are streaked brown and buff and underparts are white with brown streaks. Throat is white with black slashes on sides of neck. Strong direct flight with deep rapid wing beats.
Range and Habitat
American Bittern: Breeds from southeastern Alaska, Manitoba, and Newfoundland south to California, New Mexico, Arkansas, and the Carolinas. Spends winters from coastal British Columbia, Illinois, and along the Atlantic coast to Long Island, and south to Costa Rica (rarely) and Greater Antilles. Preferred habitats include freshwater wetlands with tall emergent vegetation.
The American Bittern it is actually native to a number of countries in North America as well as Central America and even in many other locales around the world. For example, it has also been reported in a number of European countries. The range of this bird is estimated to be more than 8 million square kilometers. With a global population of around 3 million individual birds, the American Bittern is not believed to be in any immediate danger of extinction. It is evaluated as Least Concern.
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.
They prefer to freeze, not flush like other herons when approached. 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.
They use resounding calls to communicate. These eerie calls have earned them many nicknames: stake-driver, thunder-pumper, and mire-drum.
A group of bitterns has many collective nouns, including a "dash", "freeze", "pint", "pretense" and "siege" of bitterns.