Least Bittern: Very small, secretive heron with black cap and back, and white throat and belly. Wings have conspicuous pale brown patches visible in flight. The bill, legs and feet are yellow. Feeds on fish, insects, small amphibians, crustaceans and invertebrates.
Range and Habitat
Least Bittern: Breeds in wetland areas throughout the eastern U.S. and along the Pacific coast. Spends winters from the southern states south to Colombia. Found in dense marshlands supporting cattails and reeds.
The Least Bittern is rated as Least Concern at this time. This is a terrestrial bird species that has a large global range of up to 6 million square kilometers. The population of the Least Bittern is estimated at around 130,000 individuals. This bird is native to the Caribbean, North America, Central America and South America. The prior rating of the Least Bittern was Lower Risk. That rating was downgraded to Least Concern in 2004 as a result of the size and stability of the bird's range and population.
The Least Bittern was first described in 1789 by Johann Friedrich Gmelin, a German naturalist, botanist and entomologist.
Thanks to its habit of straddling reeds, it can feed in water that would be too deep for the wading strategy of other herons.
When alarmed, it freezes in place with its bill pointed up, turns its front and both eyes toward the source of alarm, and sometimes sways to resemble wind-blown marsh vegetation.
A group of bitterns has many collective nouns, including a "dash", "freeze", "pint", "pretense" and "siege" of bitterns.