Least Bittern III

Backyard and Beyond

The first time I saw a Least Bittern was on Padre Island, Texas. It was a brief glimpse, the bird jumping from one clump of reeds to another. The second time was strange: the bird was high up in a tree in Prospect Park.Third time is a charm of a cliche, but what a sighting! Note those long toes. The bird, a juvenile (no dark crown), stilt-walked above the water by grabbing nearby foliage. They don’t have to wade like other herons.This was up at Montezuma NWR, where a fellow bird-dog called me back twice to make sure I spotted the bird, since it kept scooting back into the reeds.The binomial Ixobrychus exilis can be broken down nicely: the genus name might be translated as “reed boomer” and exilis simply means small. A Green Heron, a larger bird than the Least, seen a few minutes…

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