If you enjoy reading about reclusive birds, then the American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) is the bird for you. It is a North American bird that belongs to the heron family. They prefer to live in freshwater wetlands where marsh vegetation is abundant. This bird preys on small animals like salamanders, small snakes, eels, and other such animals. They stand motionless in the water waiting for their prey and to attack it.
The bitterns have a very sharp and long bill which helps them to prey. American Bitterns are medium-sized herons with thick and compact bodies, they have short legs and thicker necks than most of the herons and are slightly hunched. Thunder Pumper, Stake Driver, and Mire Drum are nicknames given to American Bitterns for their prolific hunting skills. These North American birds have broad wings and the wingtips are somewhat pointed - helping them take short flights across the marshlands to their migratory locations.
These wonderful water birds nest in swamps and vegetation and are well known for their prominent neck. Read on to know everything about them, and do not forget to check out Guam rail and prairie chicken too!
What do they prey on?
Eels, small snakes, salamanders, small mammals, frogs
What do they eat?
Average litter size?
How much do they weigh?
How long are they?
How tall are they?
What do they look like?
Warm brown, buff, and white
What are their main threats?
Loss of habitat, humans
What is their conservation status?
Where you'll find them
Freshwater marshes and brackish swamps
Canada, Central America
American Bittern Interesting Facts
What type of animal is an American Bittern?
The American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus), also known as Thunder Pumper is a member of the heron family and a bird.
What class of animal does an American Bittern belong to?
The mire drum belongs to Aves, the bird class.
How many American Bitterns are there in the world?
Due to lack of research, it is not known how many of these birds exist in the wild. However, their population is thought to be at a healthy level.
Where does an American Bittern live?
These North American birds live in wetlands where there is an abundance of marsh vegetation.
What is an American Bittern's habitat?
The American Bittern prefers to live in brackish and freshwater marshes and swamps. In winter, they can also be found in salt marshes. It prefers thick bushes, cattails, or sedges. It is found in North America for summers but migrates south towards the Gulf coast for breeding seasons.
Who do American Bitterns live with?
The birds forage alone. The male and female do not interact with each other except for mating (in breeding season) and reproduction.
How long does an American Bittern live?
The American Bitterns live for approximately eight years in the wild.
How do they reproduce?
The breeding season starts in the month of May. The female chooses a site to set her nest and builds a platform for the nest of sedges, cattails, and other plants. She lays two to six eggs at the rate of one egg per day. Then the female incubates the eggs for 29 days and takes care of the young, after which they leave the nest site.
What is their conservation status?
The IUCN Red list marks these birds as Least Concern. However, this may not be the case for much longer as humans encroach upon their territory year after year. They are certainly not rare in numbers, but definitely rare in sightings.
American Bittern Fun Facts
What do American Bitterns look like?
These birds have brown and white-colored bodies with thick necks and short legs. They have compact bodies and a long bill that is sharp as a sword. The bill helps the birds to hunt for their prey and to be precise with their attack. They have a short height of 23-34 in and the bird is 58-85 cm in length. The birds have an average weight of 600 g. The American Bittern birds live for about eight years. The male is marginally larger than the female.
How cute are they?
They are not the cutest species of all time. It is much better to instead give our attention to other, cuter species with more color in them.
How do they communicate?
This species has a series of resounding calls that it uses to communicate across their habitat marshes and wetlands. They are low-frequency calls, which carry farther than higher-pitched tones. The American Bittern call is used for potential mates for breeding to their nest, to assert dominance and more communications.
How big is an American Bittern?
This species of water birds can grow up to be up to have a height of 32 in, where the male is larger than the female. The bird is as big as a kiwi bird.
How fast can an American Bittern fly?
Due to a lack of information, there is no record of how fast these species can fly. There are very few sightings of the American Bittern in flight.
How much does an American Bittern weigh?
An average bird of this species can weigh 0.8 lb on average. If the American Bittern bird is fit and there is no lack of food for it and gains complete nutrition, then it can weigh up to 2.4 lb too.
What are their male and female names of the species?
There are no specific names for the males and females of the species.
What would you call a baby American Bittern?
There is no specific name for a baby Bittern (American).
What do they eat?
A Bittern (American) usually eats small mammals, insects, reptiles, and other small living creatures. They wait in the water and stand completely still and as their prey comes towards them, they strike through the water and pull them out. Their neck is particularly useful in this. It is long, agile, and very flexible.
Are they dangerous?
They are not dangerous to humans. This species cannot survive in our habitat, and so, the American Bittern is not found in our surroundings. Their natural habitat is wetlands and marsh vegetation with water and swamps. In addition, their small size ensures that they cannot do much harm.
Would they make a good pet?
They would make a terrible pet, not only because a human home is an inappropriate habitat for them, but also because it is not legal to have this water bird as a pet in many parts of the world. They are protected under various wildlife acts in the United States as well as Canada and other neighboring nations.
Did you know...
One of the biggest reasons why humans have not been able to study these creatures in detail is because of their extremely secretive lifestyle. They are seldom seen outside their nest, camouflage well within the vegetation, and avidly avoid human contact.
Why are American Bitterns endangered?
These brown-colored birds are endangered due to loss of habitat and human intervention with chemicals in their water. Even though they have a relatively large population, this is fast changing due to them losing their habitat to human agricultural endeavors. The chemicals in the water make their habitat unlivable, and in turn, is actively driving down their numbers.
American Bittern vs. Green Heron
The biggest difference between these birds and the Green Heron population is that the Green Heron has completely shaded wings, whereas the American Bittern has patches of lighter color. The American bittern has a taller neck than that of the Green Heron but is smaller in overall size.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including shoebill, or greater flamingo.
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.
Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.
Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.
We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.
Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.
We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.