American Bittern–Guess What Its Orange Eyes Mean…

American BIttern

[Photo used with permission from Redwood Planet Media]

Snap! This stealthy American Bittern snagged a stickleback from the Arcata Marsh’s freshwater ponds in its long straight beak. According to the photographer, “To catch [the small fish], the American Bitterns are wading out on the few patches of floating vegetation left behind by the ducks and coots during the winter.”

These medium-sized herons have warm stripey brown and cream necks which help them blend into the reeds where they are often found. According to AllAboutBirds, “They adopt a classic pose when alarmed, with the beak pointing straight up, helping this streaky bird blend in with its reedy background.”

According to a Fish and Wildlife website, “Adult bitterns have yellow eyes, which turn orange during courtship.”

For fun, check out their percussion like calls at this site. (Their distinctive calls have earned them the names “thunder pumper” and “water-belcher.”)

If you’ve got a heron or an egret photo, share those handsome birds with the rest of us in the comment section below.




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