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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

American Bittern


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A stocky and well-camouflaged heron of dense reed beds, the American Bittern is difficult to see. Its far-carrying booming call is distinctive, but the bittern itself likes to keep under cover.

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Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Medium-sized, stocky heron.
  • Thick neck and bill.
  • Colored in brown, tan, and white stripes.

Immature Description

Similar to adult.

Range Map Help

American Bittern Range Map
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Field MarksHelp


    American Bittern

    • Stocky, medium-sized heron
    • Intricate patterning on wings with thick, rufous stripes on neck and breast
    • Thick, dull gray bill
    • Brown and rufous overall
    • © Kurt Kirchmeier, Saskatchewan, Canada, May 2012

    American Bittern

    • Usually secretive and hidden motionless amongst reeds in wetland habitats
    • Thick rufous-brown stripes on neck
    • Intricate patterning on back and wings
    • Stout, dull yellow/gray bill
    • © Bill Thompson, Newburyport, Massachusetts, October 2012

    American Bittern

    • Usually secretive and retiring
    • Distinctive chocolate-brown plumage with fine patterning on wings/nack
    • Thick stripes on neck and breast
    • © Hawkperson, Mountain View Shoreline Park, California, March 2013