Is This A Bittern?

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The other day, I was at the lake when I startled a bird. In one second, I was able to conclude I had never seen it before. It flew from the tall wetland grass to more tall wetland grass. This morning I saw two.

two bittern

Can you find them? They are a bit bigger than sandpipers and smaller than green herons.

When they stand erect, they look like their much, much bigger relatives, the great blue herons. But this guy is only, maybe, standing a little over a foot high.

tall bitternThey are super shy and as you can see prefer the grasses. Hungry bellies did lure them onto the shore for a time.

bittern hunting

This beauty was more adept at capturing its lunch, then I was the shot, from my very long distance away. It took me an hour of taking a few steps at a time to gain a bit of trust.

bittern

I was actually at the lake twice. This morning was early with little light. When I came home to identify this fine pair. I am uncertain. Size, behavior, habitat lead me to think it is a bittern.

bittern walk

But they lack the buff patch of the least bittern. So I need fellow birders’ help. Are they least bitterns in their darker morph form, Cory’s least bittern? Are they the same species, maybe different sexes? Are they not bitterns at all?

bittern lake

No matter their names, I am glad they let me into their world. They were aware of me the entire time, but as with most of nature, they were willing to share their wonder as long as I was willing to be at peace in their habitat.

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