BirdSpecies_AmericanBittern.jpg

American Bittern: Botaurus lentiginosus

Appearance:

We can see its effective use of camouflage. The bittern, a species of heron, spends its life among tall, aquatic vegetation like cattails or sawgrass, in freshwater and saltwater marshes or at the borders of lakes. It stands over two feet tall. Its color - a buffy brown back, creamy underparts with brown flecking, greenish legs - allows it to blend with the surroundings, as does its behavior. To remain concealed when alarmed, the bird freezes with its head pointed skyward, resembling reeds. If wind stirs the vegetation, the bittern may also sway its head.

Habitat:

Since the bittern is a winter visitor to Florida, we rarely hear its weird vocalizations, mostly made during the spring and summer.

They occur throughout Florida November through April, mostly in freshwater juncus marshes, before returning to the northern U.S. and southern Canada to breed. Their numbers have been declining over the past three decades at an average rate of 2.4 percent per year, mostly due to loss of wetlands.

To see an American bittern, then, is luck indeed.

Behavior:

Sun-gazer, the American bittern is called, as well as Stake Driver, Thunder Pump and Mire Drum. The names refer to the bittern's call, a deep resonant oonk-a-lunk, which has been likened to the bellowing of a bull or a hydraulic machine. It's odd that a bird this secretive makes such a racket.

Additional Information:


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FWC Facts:
The horse conch (Pleuroploca gigantea) is Florida's official state shell. It is a predator that grabs other snails and inserts its toothed tongue to devour soft flesh.

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