American Bittern

(Botaurus lentiginosus)

Conservation Status
American Bittern
Photo by Christa Rittberg
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

 
  NatureServe

N4B, N4N - Apparently Secure Breeding and Nonbreeding

S4B - Apparently Secure Breeding

 
  Minnesota

not listed

 
           
           
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

There is bold brown streaking on the neck and chest, and dark streaks from the bill to the shoulders.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

23 to 27 in length

42 wingspan

 
     
 

Voice

 
   
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Marshes and wetlands with dense, tall, emergent vegetation

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Migration

 
 

April to May and August to November

 
     
 

Nesting

 
 

 

 
     
 

Food

 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Occurrence

 
 

Uncommon migrant, rare breeder

 
         
 

Maps

 
 

The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Class Aves (birds)  
 

Order

Pelecaniformes (pelicans, herons, ibises, and allies)  
 

Family

Ardeidae (bitterns, egrets, herons)  
 

Subfamily

Botaurinae (bitterns)  
 

Genus

Botaurus (brown bitterns)  
       
 

Bitterns, egrets, and herons (family Ardeidae) were formerly classified under the order Ciconiiformes. Based on a phylogenomic study published in 2008, the family was transferred to the order Pelecaniformes.

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

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Dan W. Andree

 
 

American Bittern ...

...the bittern started swaying its neck gently from side to side. Trying to imitate the movement of the cattails lightly moving in the breeze. They are really interesting. ... Fortunate to get this rather secretive bird and close up.

  American Bittern  
         
      American Bittern  
 

Christa Rittberg

 
 

Observed just outside of George H. Crosby Manitou State Park.

 
    American Bittern      
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

 

 
           

 

Camera

 

     
 
Slideshows
 

Voices: American Bittern
LabofOrnithology

   
 
About

Uploaded on Apr 15, 2010

Experience the song of an American Bittern emanating from a cattail marsh in spring, as narrated by the Cornell Lab's Laura Erickson. Learn more about American Bitterns at All About Birds: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Bittern/id

Audio recordings by Steve Pantle. Photographs by Gerrit Vyn and Marie Read. To explore more audio recordings visit the Macaulay Library: http://macaulaylibrary.org/index.do

 

American Bittern
JMC Nature Photos

  American Bittern  

"American Bittern" "Botaurus lentiginosus"
John Adams

  "American Bittern" "Botaurus lentiginosus"  

American Bittern - Botaurus lentiginosus
Jean-François Hic

  American Bittern - Botaurus lentiginosus  

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

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Dan W. Andree

 
  720p from 4k "American Bittern" Early Spring 2021
Nov 11, 2021
 
   
 
About

An up close look at an American Bittern early spring. There is a written intro and the video also contains sounds of the frogs croaking. This was the closest I had ever gotten to an American Bittern and one of very few times I had ever seen one. "Hope you enjoy this"

   
       
 
Other Videos
 
  American Bittern Displaying in Maine
WIld Bird Video Productions
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 22, 2012

I found this American bittern in a hay field about a mile from home. Luckily he was on the edge of the field "pumper lunking" and offered up some great opportunities. He was often to close! It's best to listen to the video with headphones or with a system that has a sub woofer in order to hear the full range of sound. © 2012 Garth McElroy. www.wildbirdvideos.com

 
  American Bittern Mating Call
Dennis Davenport
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 8, 2012

Here's an American Bittern performing his mating call. I really need to pick up a decent microphone to deal with the wind. Taken at Ridgefield NWR on Apr. 23, 2012 with my Canon 7D.

 
  The American Bittern
nwwmark
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jan 22, 2012

Of all the birds I have admired over the years, I must admit that the American Bittern is by far the most interesting. I had only seen them a few times in the wild and as luck would have it I could never catch them on film until now. I am simply fascinated by this bird, everything from its unusual plunger like call to the way it mimics the windy marsh grass has made it one of my favorites for years. I have paddled right between them while I could hear them singing from only a few feet away and yet still without being able to capture a glance of these amazingly stealthy marsh birds. The American Bittern needs our help because the wetlands it calls home are becoming more rare every year. Its up to each one of us to do our own part in our own community to help preserve the natural world. There really is a future in a clean and healthy Earth so I hope you can join me in helping protect our Mother Earth and all its wonders. I hope you enjoy and share this film with as many as you can to keep spreading the conservation message. Until next time, you can join me at my website http://www.naturewalkswithmark.org and thanks to the support of my friends we now have a new group helping to raise wildlife awareness called the Nature Walks Conservations Society http://www.naturewalksCS.org

 
  American Bittern 2013 Video file
TheThirdHandVideo
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 5, 2013

Footage of an american Bittern doing its onk-a-chonk call. Filmed May 18, 2013, Straight River Marsh Scrape, Steele County, Owatonna, Minnesota. Filming by Leanne T. Alt, TheTthird Hand, Inc. Video Productions, Owatonna, Minnesota. Copyright 201, The Third Hand, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

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  Ann
5/10/2022

Location: Welch, MN

deep in backwoods, very rare people traffic. Not far from a river. Think came out from fallen log and brush pile. Wish I had my better camera had I known I'd see such a thing!

American Bittern  
  Dan W. Andree
4/28/2021

Location: rural Norman Co. Mn.

...the bittern started swaying its neck gently from side to side. Trying to imitate the movement of the cattails lightly moving in the breeze. They are really interesting. ... Fortunate to get this rather secretive bird and close up.

American Bittern

 
  Kristy Fletcher 
5/21/2019

Location: Frazee (Becker County) MN

I did not see the bird itself. I heard its call in the swamp in front of our house on two separate occasions within a week. Will continue to watch and listen for it.

 
  Christa Rittberg
6/14/2015

Location: Lake County, MN

Observed just outside of George H. Crosby Manitou State Park.

American Bittern

 
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
 

 

 

 

 

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