Fun American Bittern Facts For Kids

Devangana Rathore
Nov 15, 2022 By Devangana Rathore
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Shray Sharma
These American Bittern facts are bound to leave you surprised and amazed! Read on to know more
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.7 Min

If you enjoy reading about reclusive birds, then the American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) is the bird for you. It is a North American bird that belongs to the heron family.

They prefer to live in freshwater wetlands where marsh vegetation is abundant. This bird preys on small animals like salamanders, small snakes, eels, and other such animals. They stand motionless in the water waiting for their prey and to attack it.

The bitterns have a very sharp and long bill which helps them to prey. American Bitterns are medium-sized herons with thick and compact bodies, they have short legs and thicker necks than most of the herons and are slightly hunched.

Thunder Pumper, Stake Driver, and Mire Drum are nicknames given to American Bitterns for their prolific hunting skills. These North American birds have broad wings and the wingtips are somewhat pointed - helping them take short flights across the marshlands to their migratory locations.

These wonderful water birds nest in swamps and vegetation and are well known for their prominent neck. Read on to know everything about them, and do not forget to check out Guam rail and prairie chicken too!

American Bittern Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an American Bittern?

The American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus), also known as Thunder Pumper is a member of the heron family and a bird.

What class of animal does an American Bittern belong to?

The mire drum belongs to Aves, the bird class.

How many American Bitterns are there in the world?

Due to lack of research, it is not known how many of these birds exist in the wild. However, their population is thought to be at a healthy level.

Where does an American Bittern live?

These North American birds live in wetlands where there is an abundance of marsh vegetation.

What is an American Bittern's habitat?

The American Bittern prefers to live in brackish and freshwater marshes and swamps. In winter, they can also be found in salt marshes. It prefers thick bushes, cattails, or sedges. It is found in North America for summers but migrates south towards the Gulf coast for breeding seasons.

Who do American Bitterns live with?

The birds forage alone. The male and female do not interact with each other except for mating (in breeding season) and reproduction.

How long does an American Bittern live?

The American Bitterns live for approximately eight years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season starts in the month of May. The female chooses a site to set her nest and builds a platform for the nest of sedges, cattails, and other plants.

She lays two to six eggs at the rate of one egg per day. Then the female incubates the eggs for 29 days and takes care of the young, after which they leave the nest site.

What is their conservation status?

The IUCN Red list marks these birds as Least Concern. However, this may not be the case for much longer as humans encroach upon their territory year after year. They are certainly not rare in numbers, but definitely rare in sightings.

American Bittern Fun Facts

What do American Bitterns look like?

These birds have brown and white-colored bodies with thick necks and short legs. They have compact bodies and a long bill that is sharp as a sword. The bill helps the birds to hunt for their prey and to be precise with their attack.

They have a short height of 23-34 in and the bird is 58-85 cm in length. The birds have an average weight of 600 g. The American Bittern birds live for about eight years. The male is marginally larger than the female.

The American Bittern is a member of the heron family and has a long beak just like its relatives.

How cute are they?

They are not the cutest species of all time. It is much better to instead give our attention to other, cuter species with more color in them.

How do they communicate?

This species has a series of resounding calls that it uses to communicate across their habitat marshes and wetlands. They are low-frequency calls, which carry farther than higher-pitched tones.  The American Bittern call is used for potential mates for breeding to their nest, to assert dominance and more communications.

How big is an American Bittern?

This species of water birds can grow up to be up to have a height of 32 in, where the male is larger than the female. The bird is as big as a kiwi bird.

How fast can an American Bittern fly?

Due to a lack of information, there is no record of how fast these species can fly. There are very few sightings of the American Bittern in flight.

How much does an American Bittern weigh?

An average bird of this species can weigh 0.8 lb on average. If the American Bittern bird is fit and there is no lack of food for it and gains complete nutrition, then it can weigh up to 2.4 lb too.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the males and females of the species.

What would you call a baby American Bittern?

There is no specific name for a baby Bittern (American).

What do they eat?

A Bittern (American) usually eats small mammals, insects, reptiles, and other small living creatures. They wait in the water and stand completely still and as their prey comes towards them, they strike through the water and pull them out. Their neck is particularly useful in this. It is long, agile, and very flexible.

Are they dangerous?

They are not dangerous to humans. This species cannot survive in our habitat, and so, the American Bittern is not found in our surroundings. Their natural habitat is wetlands and marsh vegetation with water and swamps. In addition, their small size ensures that they cannot do much harm.

Would they make a good pet?

They would make a terrible pet, not only because a human home is an inappropriate habitat for them, but also because it is not legal to have this water bird as a pet in many parts of the world. They are protected under various wildlife acts in the United States as well as Canada and other neighboring nations.

Did you know...

One of the biggest reasons why humans have not been able to study these creatures in detail is because of their extremely secretive lifestyle. They are seldom seen outside their nest, camouflage well within the vegetation, and avidly avoid human contact.

Why are American Bitterns endangered?

These brown-colored birds are endangered due to loss of habitat and human intervention with chemicals in their water. Even though they have a relatively large population, this is fast changing due to them losing their habitat to human agricultural endeavors. The chemicals in the water make their habitat unlivable, and in turn, is actively driving down their numbers.

American Bittern vs. Green Heron

The biggest difference between these birds and the Green Heron population is that the Green Heron has completely shaded wings, whereas the American Bittern has patches of lighter color. The American bittern has a taller neck than that of the Green Heron but is smaller in overall size.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including shoebill, or greater flamingo.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our American bittern coloring pages.

canada central america

Get directions
We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You


See All

Written by Devangana Rathore

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Language, Master of Philosophy

Devangana Rathore picture

Devangana RathoreBachelor of Arts specializing in English Language, Master of Philosophy

Devangana is a highly accomplished content writer and a deep thinker with a Master's degree in Philosophy from Trinity College, Dublin. With a wealth of experience in copywriting, she has worked with The Career Coach in Dublin and is constantly looking to enhance her skills through online courses from some of the world's leading universities. Devangana has a strong background in computer science and is also an accomplished editor and social media manager. Her leadership skills were honed during her time as the literacy society president and student president at the University of Delhi.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Shray Sharma

Bachelor of Technology specializing in Computer Science Engineering

Shray Sharma picture

Shray SharmaBachelor of Technology specializing in Computer Science Engineering

As an aspiring web and app developer, Shray has a passion for working with promising startups. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Maharaja Surajmal Institute Of Technology while gaining experience in digital marketing. Shray has already earned a Google Analytics Certification and is well-equipped to handle analytics and data management tasks. He has also served as a marketing manager at Parallax Virtual Arts, where he oversaw the company's social media, content, and SEO strategies. Shray's goal is to create engaging content that resonates with audiences and offers valuable insights.

Read full bio >