American Bittern sightings in Mad River Valley

Posted on Wednesday 12 July 2006

Last summer I saw my first Valley American Bittern while driving down East Warren Road toward Waitsfield Village.  I remember stopping the car, backing up, and watching for several minutes.  I laughed because the bird was standing in the middle of a field with it’s long neck pointing skyward, thinking it was hiding in reeds.  Obviously, this young bird did not yet know the ways of the world.  Later in the summer, Lisa K. reported seeing another bittern in a field in the Valley.

This spring I saw an adult on the North Road, just north of the covered bridge and Tremblay Road.  Cathie A. and Katie W. reported bitterns in the wetlands just south of Bridge St.. in Waitsfield Village.  Their strange call and secretive nature make these birds a great treat to see.

Last Sunday an American Bittern landed near the pond at my house on East Warren Road.  Again, I would guess it to be a juvenile as it has no tall grass or reeds to hide in and sometimes stands with it’s neck extended, trying to look like a cattail.  It stays for about an hour, hunting frogs around the perimeter of the pond.  The bird has been here several times, usually early in the morning or mid to late afternoon.  He/she does run to the tall grass if we make a lot of noise, but sometimes continues hunting when we drive away in a vehicle.  I wonder if these birds are more plentiful this year, or if I’m just becoming more aware of their presence.  In any case, watch for the American Bittern.  It’s a really cool bird!

American Bittern

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