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American Bittern

Scientific name: Botaurus lentiginosus

The American Bittern uses a strategy known as crypsis to forage for its food. Crypsis means to avoid observation, in this case by the bittern’s prey. The bold brown stripes on the American Bittern’s neck help it blend in with its reedy marsh habitat. It holds very still while waiting for an unsuspecting fish, frog, or crayfish to come by, and then quickly strikes by grabbing the prey with its bill.

Large, shallow, unpolluted wetlands are important for American Bitterns. If you visit such an area in the spring, especially at dawn or dusk, you may hear the deep, unusual booming of the bittern. American Bitterns can be very hard to see because of their camouflage, and because they seldom perch in trees the way other herons sometimes do.