It may not seem like it would be too difficult to spot a 28-inch-tall bird with a 42-inch wingspan, but the American Bittern likes to blend in with its surroundings.
“You’ll need sharp eyes to catch sight of an American Bittern,” AllAboutBirds.com notes. “This streaky, brown and buff heron can materialize among the reeds, and disappear as quickly, especially when striking a concealment pose with neck stretched and bill pointed skyward. These stealthy carnivores stand motionless amid tall marsh vegetation, or patiently stalk fish, frogs, and insects.”
I have been looking for a Bittern during my visits to Orlando Wetlands Park, but had not been be able to see one until I made a recent visit before sunset. On a trail where I was the only person walking, I happened to spot a Bitten creeping along the edge of a marsh.
They’re really shy birds. Could one reason be because they’re self-conscious of their really unusual call? To me it sounds like an amplified version of water dripping. Others have described it as being a “stake-driver” or a “water-belcher.” Listen for yourself.
But whatever its call sounds like, this is what an American Bittern looks like at OWP.