An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

American Bitterns Foraging

American bittern and tadpole 347American Bitterns are typically solitary foragers.  You rarely see more than one at a time (if you’re lucky enough to see one) stealthily standing in place, or slowly walking, as it looks for insects, amphibians (frogs, tadpoles (pictured) and salamanders), small fish, mammals (mostly meadow voles), crayfish and small snakes to eat.  This solitary feeder’s cryptic coloration, especially the stripes on its breast and belly, is thought to function mostly to reduce visibility to prey and competitors rather than to predators.  With lightning speed a bittern seizes its prey and swallows it head first . Roughly twenty-two hours after eating, a bittern ejects the indigestible part of its meal in the form of a pellet.

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6 responses

  1. Great photograph and description on this most elusive bird Mary. I am yet to get that photo opportunity!
    The other one I am aching to run into is a green heron in it’s natural environment…
    Thanks,
    Bill Farr

    May 19, 2016 at 12:03 pm

  2. Gorgeous capture ! 💕🐦

    May 19, 2016 at 2:52 pm

  3. Amazing capture, Mary. That’s some trigger finger you’ve got there!

    May 19, 2016 at 8:11 pm

  4. I have to ask: what kind of tadpole is that? It’s huge! Wonderful capture (for both you and the bittern!).

    June 1, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    • Hi Wendy, My guess is bullfrog, or a giant green frog!

      June 1, 2016 at 8:30 pm

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