Least Bitterns - With Breeding Colors

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zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 30,322
Least Bitterns - With Breeding Colors

End of Spring and beginning of summer here in Florida is a key time to see least bitterns around - if you can find them hiding in the tall reeds in the wetlands...the particular nicety this time of year is that it is prime mating season. Like many birds, they turn on more vivid colors for mating - notably the red along the base of the bill which gives them a little more 'pop' on top of their usual chestnut, brown, tan, black, white, and yellow colors.

Here are some looks at least bitterns in my local wetlands over the past few months.

Note: all shots posted at 1400 pixels on the long side if you click the originals. Shots taken with a Sony A6300 and FE100-400mm GM lens:

Usually well hidden deep in the reeds and down by the waterline, this male bittern was intent on being noticed, looking for a mate...note the nice red wash at the base of the bill

A slightly closer look when he stopped sticking his neck out and stretching out his wings

Another breeding male - how they're more typically seen - down in the reeds and half-blocked!

This female was relatively out in the open, as she was walking the floating leaves to hunt - and it paid off with a little fish lunch

As soon as she scored one fish, she walked on to another spot to look for more

And back to stalking mode - watching the waters for any signs of fish

I heard this one before I saw it - when he finally poked out between the leaves and reeds, I was able to see his beautiful mating colors in his face - but he stayed partially hidden behind the leaves

My presence didn't stop him from fishing though - he made a stab at the water and came up with a score - though all I could see was his head!

Comments, questions, and critique welcomed as always.

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