Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) -Threatened
The smallest member of the heron family, this bird reaches only 30 centimetres in length. It has brown and beige plumage with large chestnut patches on its wings. The crown and back of males is black, but is lighter in females and juveniles. The throat is light tan with whitish streaks and the belly is white. The legs and beak are bright yellow. Young birds look similar to the females, but the markings are not as bold.
Canadian Population: approx. 1500 pairs
Threats to this Species: The main threat to the Least bittern is destruction of its wetland habitat. Shoreline development, wetland loss and drainage, and invasive species are all serious threats. This species does not generally tolerate human disturbance well (e.g. lighting from buildings, boat wakes in protected channels, loud noise etc.) and will leave marshes if human activity or habitat alteration becomes too great.
Fun Fact: When least bittern detects danger, it freezes in place, erects bill upwards and sways in the wind like a reed to fool the predators such as snapping turtles and red-tailed hawks.
Want to learn more about local bird species? Visit Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory's website for more info!
Want to learn more about birds across Canada? Visit the Birds Canada website for more info!
Species descriptions are from the Species at Risk in Ontario website.
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