Reader spots rare backyard bird
The State Journal-Register
Readers will have to look close at Darrell Schaver’s photo to find the subject.
“A Springfield backyard is not usual habitat for a bittern, but we were fortunate to have a visit from this one,” he writes. “I’m pretty sure it is an American bittern, probably passing through heading south.”
The photo was taken last October.
The American bittern is a heron that is hard to see because of the vertical brown, tan and white strips that allow it to blend into grasses, cattails and other marsh vegetation.
While it is an interesting bird to see, its call is even more distinctive. It gulps and expels air in a slow-motion “wunk-a-chunk” sound, reminiscent of dripping water amplified many times.
Go to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology web page for the American bittern to hear the call: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/american_bittern/id.
American bitterns are an Illinois state endangered species, meaning few stay to breed in Illinois.
The related least bittern is a threatened species in Illinois.