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Least Bittern

Ixobrychus exilis


Least Bitterns are a small secretive marsh bird averaging 11 - 14 inches (28-36cm) in length with a wingspan of 16 - 18 inches (41-46cm). The crown, back, and tail are a vivid greenish black, while the neck, sides, and underparts are streaked with brown and white. Characters include chestnut wings with contrasting pale patches and white lines bordering the shoulders. Because of the secretive nature and dense cover used by Least bitterns they are often easier to identify by their low dove-like call. Seldom Seen, especially at close range. This is a juvenile bird and is approx. 6 inches in size.


Found in a normally very wet, wetland, near farm fields. Wetland at present time, is drying up more and more, as we have had a lack of rainfall for quite some time.


I have spent 4 days and nearly 20 hours watching and studying this bird. It is a juvenile and is approx 6 inches in size. It hunts for fish remarkably well considering its very young age. I have seen one other least Bittern in the area, and it was a larger male. It was quite a distance away, and I have yet to get a photo of him.

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williefromwi 9 years ago

Thanks Adam

AdamBrown 9 years ago

awesome photos...looks like he's eating well.

williefromwi 9 years ago

Thank you Satyen, Scott, Shauming, Alice, Ceherzog, Maria, and Leanne, for you wonderful comments.

Wild Things
Wild Things 9 years ago

Lovely series!

ScottHarte 9 years ago

another great series of the bittern, good job

ShaumingLo 9 years ago

Fantastic series ! Super clear pictures.

alicelongmartin 9 years ago

Purely wonderful Series!

ceherzog 9 years ago

You are blessed Willie and talented to go along with it!...patient too

Maria dB
Maria dB 9 years ago

especially like the third and fifth action shots

LeanneGardner 9 years ago

Congratulations on this challenging spot Willie. Your patience has really paid off. Brilliant photos as always & such a lovely little bird :)

williefromwi 9 years ago

Thanks Ceherzog, I have been told these are shy birds, and it is rare to even see one. I never had until I happened upon him. I have gone back to where I first spotted him to study and photograph him. Last night I saw him for 10 minutes in the open, the night before. I was able to watch him for over 2 hours in the open. I am truly blessed sometimes, I have no other way to explain it.

williefromwi 9 years ago

Thanks Gerardo, He was sneaking in as stealthy as could be, so he could get in position to grab some small fish in the water below. I have had a wonderful time watching him, and photographing him, and am thrilled I can share it with you and so many others here on Project Noah.

ceherzog 9 years ago

This bird is so elusive and you got these fantastic shots...I'm so impressed!

Gerardo Aizpuru
Gerardo Aizpuru 9 years ago

Wow wonderful as all your series Willie :) love the first shot is like is doing a
Chi kung position.

williefromwi 9 years ago

Thanks Liam, it is one of my favorite spottings as I had never seen this bird in the wild until I found him a few days ago. I have spent 4 evenings and nearly 20 hours watching and studying his habits, and have taken quite a few quality photos of him. I may go back tonight to see if I can find him, as I would love to see him catch a frog. There are a many small frogs in the area, yet he continues to eat only fish. Perhaps he prefers fish over frogs.

Liam 9 years ago

Love it! Fantastic as usual!

Spotted by

Mequon, Wisconsin, USA

Spotted on Jul 14, 2012
Submitted on Jul 18, 2012

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