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Least Bittern

Ixobrychus exilis ORDER: PELECANIFORMES FAMILY: ARDEIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A tiny heron, furtive and surpassingly well camouflaged, the Least Bittern is one of the most difficult North American marsh birds to spot. Despite its inconspicuousness, however, the species can be rather common within appropriate habitat in its breeding range.

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Appearance

Herons
Herons
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Tiny heron.
  • Long neck.
  • Long bill.
  • Crown and back black or dark brownish.
  • Neck and sides warm orange-brown.
  • Front of neck and chest striped orange and white.

Immature Description

Similar to adult female, with paler and browner crown.

Range Map Help

Least Bittern Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

Similar Species

  • Green Heron is much larger, with completely dark wings and a dark bill.
  • American Bittern is huge in comparison, and is colored entirely in muted browns.
  • Rails lack bright wing patches and have shorter necks.