Ixobrychus Exilis – Least Bittern

Ixobrychus Exilis - Least Bittern found in the US

The least bittern, Ixobrychus exilis is a small heron found in the Americas. It is the smallest member of the Ardeidae family. Least Bitterns are a type of heron that is extremely small. They have long legs and toes, daggerlike bills, and long necks that they frequently tuck under themselves, giving them a hunched look. Birds that are agitated may raise their crest and neck feathers.

Quick Overview: Ixobrychus Exilis – Least Bittern
Body size: Around 11-14 in (28-36 cm) and a weight of 85 g (3 oz)
Main colors: Brown, Black, Orange-Brown, White, Orange
Range: South Central and Eastern the United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: June, July, August, September
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Least Bittern Description

The crown and back are dark brown or black, the neck and sides are orange-brown, the chin is white, and the throat and breast are orange and white striped.

Ixobrychus Exilis - Least Bittern found in the US
Ixobrychus Exilis – Least Bittern. Photo by: Ethan.gosnell2

Size

These birds have a length of 11-14 in (28-36 cm) and a weight of 85 g (3 oz). Their wings could range from 16-18 in (41-46 cm).

Feeding

Small fish, eels, small snakes, salamanders, insects, frogs, and crayfish are among the foods consumed by the least bittern.

Habitat

Fresh marshes with reed-covered ponds. Mostly freshwater marsh, but some brackish marsh, in locations with thick, dense vegetation that stands in water.

Behavior

These birds’ populations have plummeted in some locations due to habitat destruction. They remain very prevalent, although are more frequently heard than seen. They would rather flee on foot and conceal themselves than take flight. These birds coo and cluck in the early morning or near nightfall.

Ixobrychus Exilis Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Pelecaniformes
  • Family: Ardeidae
  • Genus: Ixobrychus
  • Species: Ixobrychus exilis

Best time of the year to see

The best time to see these birds in the United States is during the summer season (June – September).

Distribution of the Least Bittern in the USA

Breeds in wetland habitats across the central and eastern United States, but is not found in the Appalachian Mountains or along the southern Pacific coast. Winters in the southern states and southern Colombia.

The Least Bittern can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Ixobrychus Exilis – Least Bittern

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