Bitterns & Herons

American Bittern

The American Bittern is a medium-sized bird. The color of the bird is brown with black spots on the top of the bird. For habitat, the American Bittern prefers to live in wetlands. The American Bittern also has a black patch underneath it's' eye that runs down to the side of the bird's neck. For food, the American Bittern eats crayfish, insects, frogs, and small fish and other animals. The Bittern stays motionless until the animal goes by, and then grabs the prey with the bill of the bird. The animal grabbed by the American Bittern is always swallowed head first. The American Bittern is uncommonly seen the months of January through April and rarely seen the rest of the year.

Least Bittern

The Least Bittern reaches a length between 11 and 14 inches. Least Bitterns can be spotted living in freshwater marshes. The color of the bird is usually a green-black color. This particular color helps the Least Bittern blend in with its' surroundings. This particular bird is seldom seen flying through the air. They are very good at climbing and holding on to objects with their toes. For food, the Least Bittern feeds on crayfish, frogs, and other sea animals. The Least Bittern is not seen every year on the Outer Banks and they are rarely spotted by birdwatchers. When they are in the area, the best time to try to spot them is during the months of June through September.

Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron is one of the most commonly seen herons around. The bird stands between 42 and 52 inches tall. The Great Blue Heron usually live in treetops located over the water, and they live in groups as large as 100 birds. The bird's feathers are all gray. The eyebrows form plumes that fall off the neck of the bird. One characteristic of the Great Blue Heron is when it is startled, it will bark like a dog. The Great Blue Heron eats small fish, frogs, insects and snakes. It will strike at anything that moves in front of it. It is pretty common to see a Great Blue Heron living on the Outer Banks. The months that they are most likely to be spotted on the Outer Banks are during the months of January through March and July through December.

Great Egret

The Great Egret grows to be 38 inches tall. The bird's feathers are white. The Great Egret can be spotted living in shallow wetlands and in groups with as many as 100 other Great Egrets. The Great Egret is a protected species because they were nearly extinct by the early 1900's. Poachers killed them to obtain their feathers. For food, the Great Egret eats fish, insects, frogs, and crayfish. The bird uses its bill as a spear to get the fish. On the Outer Banks, the Great Egret can be seen pretty regularly all year round.

Snowy Egret

The Snowy Egret stands 24 inches tall. The bird is covered with all white feathers. The feet and bill of the bird is black. The Snowy Egret usually lives in wetlands and are frequently seen living with other types of Egrets. They can also live in colonies that can contain several hundred nests. The Great Egret eats fish and insects. The Great Egret moves quickly in the water, with the purpose of forcing the fish or insect to the surface. The Snowy Egret lives in the Outer Banks all year round.

Little Blue Heron

The Little Blue Heron stands 24 inches tall. The bird has feathers that range in color from dark blue to purple. The color never changes, even when it is in breeding season. The Little Blue Heron can be spotted living in large colonies in saltwater areas. The Little Blue Heron eat fish and insects. They scour freshwater lakes and rivers looking for the fish they eat. They also walk slowly through the water when they are hunting for their food. The Little Blue Heron lives on the Outer Banks all year, although the number of birds that can be seen by birdwatchers decreases significantly during the winter months.

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Terms: The Birds of the Outer Banks: Bitterns & Herons

The Birds of the Outer Banks;Bitterns & Herons

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