Migratory Birds of the Great Lakes University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
 about habitat birds + science 20 birds
aerialist raptors
copyright UW Sea Grant, writer: L. Wiland, design: T. Yao contact us credits

Least Bittern — Water Connection

• While feeding, the Least Bittern stabs fish and other aquatic prey with its long, pointed bill.

• An expert climber, the Least Bittern can be seen three feet or more above water, clinging to vertical stems of reeds or cattails. From this position, the bird can reach down and feed in water that would be too deep for the wading strategy of other herons.

• The Least Bittern has developed camouflage colors and behaviors that perfectly blend with water-loving marsh vegetation. When alarmed, the bird freezes in place with its bill pointing up, turning its front and both eyes toward the source of alarm. It may even sway slightly to match the motion of wind-blown vegetation. The bird’s colors and patterns make it almost impossible to spot. When an observer circles to one side or the other, the bird slowly turns so as to keep its vertically striped breast in sight.