American Bittern

American Bittern, originally uploaded by QuakerVille.

American Bittern’s are elusive birds. When they are around they totally blend in with their surroundings. I just captured this photo this weekend while Jo, my wife, and I were visiting Wakodahatchee, a wetland park about 30 minutes north of our home in Palm Beach County, Florida. There were actually 2 Bitterns present but this one spent a few minutes in the open so I could get a couple fairly nice shots.

Since I started seeing these Bitterns a couple of years ago I’ve been able to spend some time actually watching their behavior for several hours at a time. This bird, even though shorter in height and having a shorter neck, acts a lot like an American Egret when it’s getting ready to attack food. They forage for food in marsh like water and when they see a tasty morsel they go into a “point” like a Retriever dog. They get excited about the food and their neck starts to wiggle. It’s funny to watch especially through binoculars or a telephoto lens. I can’t tell if it’s excitement or they are trying to hypnotize the Dragonfly, Lizard or insect. They strike at the food just like an Egret.

Once zoomed into the Bittern’s face a misguided Dragonfly zipped by. Mouth open, this Bittern grabbed the Dragonfly in mid-air. In a single chomp and one big gulp the Dragonfly disappeared, wings and all. Then the most amazing thing, the Bittern licked his beak, kind of like I do after good Bar-B-Que, and as if the Dragonfly was too salty, took a big drink and went back to hunting for another morsel.

This guy was only in the open for a few minutes so I grabbed as many pictures without Bulrushes and other hiding vegetation as I could.

Click the photo to visit the Flickr show and I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Communicating Bittern

Above is a shot I took a couple of weeks ago in Green Cay in Palm Beach. Another Bittern yawning, yes they yawn.I yawn every time I look at this shot.

Bittern on Watch

This Bittern rises from the vegetation. Really neat birds to see in the wild.

Finally, a fast take off. It’s too bad that this shot wasn’t more in focus. These birds have amazing wing colors hidden underneath those brown and white bodies.

Bittern Take Off


  1. Janie says:

    I enjoy your adventures and the beautiful birds you photograph. Thanks!


    1. quakerville says:

      Thanks Janie. Always nice to have someone look at them and comment too 🙂

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