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Least Bittern
02-APR-2017

Least Bittern

Sarasota, Florida

Scientific name: Passerculus sandwichensis

The least bittern is one of the smallest herons in the world. This is an elusive bird. They spend much time straddling reeds. 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. This is perhaps a predator-avoidance behavior, since its small size makes the bittern vulnerable to many potential predators.

Thanks to its habit of perching among the reeds, the least bittern can feed from the surface of water that would be too deep for the wading strategy of other herons. They mainly eat fish, frogs, crustaceans and insects, which they capture with quick jabs of their bill while climbing through marsh plants.

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