One of the smallest herons in the world, adapted for life in dense marshes. Nevertheless, A very rare dark form of Least Bittern, known as “Cory’s Least Bittern,” was once considered a separate species. Get Instant ID help for 650+ North American birds. Range: The least bittern is found from northwestern North America and southern Ontario to New Brunswick, extending south through the tropics. [5] North American birds were formerly divided into two subspecies, eastern (I. e. exilis) and western (I. e. hesperis), but this is no longer believed to be a valid distinction. Their range reaches from coast to coast and from Great Slave Lake and Newfoundland south to the central United States. The furtive Least Bittern is often little more than a voice in the reeds that is frustratingly difficult to locate. Try watching in the same areas around dusk, when there is another peak of activity. Least Bittern Ixobrychus exilis Species information The Least Bittern, Ixobrychus exilis, is the smallest heron in the Western Hemisphere, seldom seen in its dense marsh habitat. Least bitterns are listed as This species is largely absent from the Appalachians. [11] Nonetheless, in 1896 Frank Chapman wrote a detailed paper supporting its retention as a valid species. Least Bitterns can do this because their long, agile toes and curved claws allow them to grasp reeds and hunt small prey while suspended from these precarious over-water perches. (2002a). complex is located in the northern part of the Least Bittern breeding range (Gibbs et al. The least bittern range extends from southeastern Canada south through the U.S. and east to the Atlantic Coast, but they are absent along the entire Appalachian Mountain range. Look for open-water areas—edges where the birds often hunt (and can be more easily seen). In Canada, the Least Bittern has been observed in every province, but most individuals occur in Ontario. [22] More than 50% of the historical records are from the Toronto region of Ontario. The Birds of North America, No. With a black bill, entirely black back, and rich chestnut cheeks, belly, and wing coverts, this distinctive bird was highly prized by bird “collectors” as soon as it was discovered in Florida in 1885. Although drainage and development of wetlands has reduced their populations, Least Bitterns persist over much of their historical range, and are most readily seen during the breeding season. These birds make cooing and clucking sounds, usually in early morning or near dusk. 2009). They’re smartly clad in chestnut, buff, and black, with the male more richly colored than the female. [5], The least bittern forms a superspecies with the little bittern and yellow bittern. Bitterns – Shoebill Storks & Hamerkops The twelve species of Bittern in the subfamily Botaurinae complete the family Ardeidae. Both parents feed the young by regurgitating food. In September 2007, for instance, a migrant was found at Vila do Porto, Azores, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The tiny and handsome Least Bittern is our only heron species with obviously different male and female plumages. The adult male is glossy greenish-black on the back and crown; the adult female is glossy brown on these parts. The least bittern is a very small wading bird that is 11-14 inches in length with a wingspan of 16-18 inches. But these diminutive herons reward patience and will charm birders persistent enough to discover them in their wetland haunts. Plan a dawn outing in May or June to a freshwater or brackish marsh, one with dense, tall vegetation like cattail or other reeds. [23], The bird has a large range and a large total population, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being of "Least Concern". Nov 16, 2020 - Explore Bil Smythe's board "Least Bittern" on Pinterest. It has white stripes on its sides and yellow-gold patches on its wings that are visible when it is in flight. Cory stated that the specimen was "without doubt perfectly distinct from any other known species". In Ontario, the Least bittern is mostly found south of the Canadian Shield, especially in the central and eastern part of the province. The population of the Least Bittern is estimated at around 130,000 individuals. Information, images and range maps on over 1,000 birds of North America, including sub-species, vagrants, introduced birds and possibilities. The northwestern corner of the Least Bittern’s breeding range is southern Manitoba, where the species has been found in 18 wetlands: 12 in the Interlake region and six farther south, with most birds in two especially large wetlands: Rat River Swamp and Brokenhead Swamp … In some brackish marshes, notably in South Carolina, Least Bitterns may nest close to colonies of Boat-tailed Grackles, which typically choose areas without ground predators. It has a dark brown or black crown and back, an orange-brown neck and sides, a white chin, and an orange and white striped throat and breast. John James Audubon noted that a young captive Least Bittern was able to walk with ease in a 1.5-inch gap between two books, even though the bird's body normally measured 2.25 inches across—indicating that it could compress its body to an extraordinary degree to squeeze between marsh stems and reeds. The most obvious characteristic for identifying the least bittern is its buffy wing patches. In w. [5][6][7], Birds from Ecuador are sometimes assigned to a sixth subspecies, I. e. limoncochae Norton, DW, 1965. This diminutive heron is fairly common in its preferred wetland habitat, but secretive and easily overlooked. 2009). 1944) breeding range of the Least Bittern in California; numbers have declined at least moderately and the range has retracted greatly in the Central Valley. This is perhaps a predator-avoidance behaviour, since its small size makes the bittern vulnerable to many potential predators. The least bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) is a small heron, the smallest member of the family Ardeidae found in the Americas. These birds nest in large marshes with dense vegetation from southern Canada to northern Argentina. The numbers of these birds have declined in some areas due to loss of habitat. They range in size from around 80 cm (2.8 in) to 35 cm (1 ft 2 in) in length. [6][8], A dark rufous morph, I. e. neoxenus, termed "Cory's bittern" or "Cory's least bittern" was originally described by Charles Cory as a separate species in 1885 from a specimen collected on or near the Caloosahatchee River, near Lake Okeechobee, in southwest Florida. [2] It can measure from 28 to 36 cm (11 to 14 in) in length, and the wingspan ranges from 41 to 46 cm (16 to 18 in). They spend much time straddling reeds. The bird's underparts and throat are white with light brown streaks. Perhaps surprisingly, tiny Least Bitterns use areas with deeper water than the much larger, longer-legged American Bittern. [24], A. Martínez-Vilalta & A. Motis, Least Bittern species account in del Hoyo, Josep, Andrew Elliott and Jordi Sargatal (1992). Close ), both renesting after depredation and raising two broods (Bogner and Baldassarre 2002a Bogner, H. E. and G. A. Baldassarre. Ardetta exilisArdetta neoxenaIxobrychus exilis neoxenusIxobrychus neoxenus. This wetland complex consists of 60% wetlands (including These birds migrate from the northern parts of their range in winter for the southernmost coasts of the United States and areas further south, travelling at night. It’s very small size and contrasting color … Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns(Order: Pelecaniformes, Family:Ardeidae). Gill F & D Donsker (Eds). Wilson Bulletin 73:11-35. Please note: The Canadian population of least bitterns is estimated at less than 1000 pairs. Gibbs, J.P., FA. In the western U.S., populations are found in the Central Valley and Modoc Plateau of California, Klamath and Malheur Basins in Oregon, and along the Colorado River in southwestern Arizona and southeastern California. Rather than wading in the shallows like most herons, the Least Bittern climbs about in cattails and reeds, clinging to the stems with its long toes. In shape and secretive habits it resembles the more familiar American Bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus, but it is much smaller and somewhat more colourful. An elusive marsh bird, the Least Bittern breeds primarily in the southern parts of Ontario, Manitoba, and Quebec, as well as the Maritimes. They prefer to escape on foot and hide than to take flight. [17], Initially, Cory's least bittern was accepted as a valid species, with Elliott Coues and Richard Bowdler Sharpe both including it in published species lists. IOC World Bird List (v 4.1). Small numbers also breed occasionally in northwest Ontario. [3] A recent manual of avian body masses cites another species in this genus, the stripe-backed bittern, as having a mean body mass slightly lower than the least bittern, which is credited with a mean mass of 86.3 g (3.04 oz).[4]. It is 11-14.2 in (28-36 cm) long, has a 16.9 in (43 cm) wing span, and weighs 2.8 oz (80 g). According to the Species at Risk Public Registry resource, the total population size of the Least bittern in Canada is around 1,500 pairs. They mainly eat fish, frogs, crustaceans and insects, which they capture with quick jabs of their bill while climbing through marsh plants. The song consists of low, muted "coo's." When alarmed, the least bittern freezes in place with its bill pointing up, turns its front and both eyes toward the source of alarm, and sometimes sways to resemble wind-blown marsh vegetation. The least bittern and much larger and different-looking American bittern often occupy the same wetlands but may have relatively little interaction because of differences in foraging habits, preferred prey, and timing of breeding cycles. This is a terrestrial bird species that has a large global range of up to 6 million square kilometers. [14] As early as 1892, however, doubts were raised about the validity of Cory's least bittern as a separate species. The Least Bittern is rated as Least Concern at this time. [9] Further specimens followed over the next decades from Florida,[10][11] Michigan,[12] Illinois,[13][14] Wisconsin,[15] Ohio,[16] and Ontario. These bitterns occur irregularly within the mapped range in Siskiyou, Modoc, and Lassen counties. Its narrow body allows it to slip through dense, tangled vegetation with ease. The grackles also aggressively chase or mob hawks and gulls, another advantage for the bitterns. This bird is native to the Caribbean, North America, Central America and … Researchers tracked breeding Least Bitterns in western New York and found the birds used about 24 acres while feeding themselves and their offspring—about the area of 10 city blocks. Other threats include regulated water levels (except for conservation purposes), invasive species, collisions (with cars and anthropogenic structures), recreational activities, and climate change. Cory’s Least Bitterns were seen frequently around the Great Lakes, especially around Toronto, in the late 1800s, before its favored marshes were destroyed. Least Bitterns won’t come to bird feeders—but a small created wetland in your yard can store, filter, and clean runoff water from your roof and yard and provide habitat for insects, amphibians, and birds, possibly including a shy migrating bittern. Small, discontinuous populations exist from Mexico to Costa Rica and the Caribbean with subspecies extending well into Sou… Populations west of the Mississippi River are discontinuous and concentrated in low-lying areas of the Central Valley and Modoc Plateau of California, Klamath and Malheur Basins of Oregon, and along the Colorado River of southwest Arizona and southeast California (Poole et al. Least Bittern. Walk slowly and pause to listen for the rapid, quiet coo-coo-coo-coo song of males. 1992). Only 7 or 8 records of this mysterious bird are known worldwide since 1973. Title Least Bittern Range - CWHR B050 [ds608] Publication date 2016-02-0100:00:00 Presentation formats digital map FGDC geospatial presentation format vector digital data Other citation details These are the same layers as appear in the CWHR System software. Melvin. Its soft song, Total range:Five subspecies of least bittern are found throughout much of North, Central, and South America (Gibbs et al. A second brood is often produced in a season. Where least bitterns do breed, however, they can occur in densities as high as 15 nests per hectare (Poole et al. 1992. In North America, this species is primarily restricted to the eastern U.S., ranging from the Great Plains states eastward to the Atlantic Coast and north to the Great Lakes region and the New England states (Evers 1994). [21], Cory's least bittern was once fairly common, but it is now exceptionally rare, with only five sightings since 1950. Least Bittern. These birds nest in large marshes with dense vegetation from southern Canada to northern Argentina. A very rare dark form of Least Bittern, known as “Cory’s Least Bittern,” was once considered a separate species. Least Bittern Range - CWHR B050 [ds608] Vector datasets of CWHR range maps are one component of California Wildlife Habitat Relationships (CWHR), a comprehensive information system and predictive model for California''s wildlife. In 2001, waterbird biologists established a rough estimate of only 128,000 breeding adults for the nominate subspecies found in North America, Ixobrychus exilis exilis (Wetlands International 2016).Statewide estimates are not available. Estimates of the size of the Least Bittern population are, at best, professional guesses. Breeding biology of the Least Bittern. Its face and the sides of the neck are light brown; it has yellow eyes and a yellow bill. The small amount of information available from this species' range in Canada suggests that it has shown little overall change since 1970. 2014. RANGE: Least Bitterns breed from southeastern Canada through the eastern and central U.S to Mexico and Costa Rica. With a black bill, entirely black back, and rich chestnut cheeks, belly, and wing coverts, this distinctive bird was highly prized by bird “collectors” as soon as it was discovered in Florida in 1885. From coast to coast and from Great Slave Lake and Newfoundland south to nest. As American bitterns breed farther North and over a larger portion of the Least is. Two months earlier ( Gibbs et al advantage for the bitterns Lassen counties and yellow bittern large! Neck are light brown ; it has shown little overall change since.... Many potential predators is estimated at around 130,000 individuals Canada suggests that it has eyes... 15 nests per hectare ( Poole et al cooing and clucking sounds usually! 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least bittern range

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