I have put this post off for a couple of months now because I wanted to avoid dealing with the huge pile of American Bittern images I had after my experience at the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival back in January. You see, the Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is kind of ridiculous when it comes to good looks at American Bitterns. How ridiculous? They hunt in the ditches on the side of the road, seemingly unconcerned by the photographers, birders, and passersby that say things like “I wish we had better light,” “Now let’s go look for a Least Bittern,” or “Wow! What is that?”

Most birders are used to bitterns hiding in extensive reed-beds and only giving themselves away in the dark of night with their booming chug-a-lug calls or, if a birder is very lucky, in the pose like the one at right, where the bittern freezes with the hope that you never saw it. I am one of those birders. Seeing several different American Bitterns up close and hunting in the open was a fascinating experience which probably explains why I took so many pictures of them.

After finally going through those pictures and deleting redundant shots, blurry shots, and other images that didn’t make the grade I wasn’t at all heartened by having over two hundred shots left. Even the most dedicated 10,000 Birds reader would not be willing to scroll through a post that had more than two hundred images of American Bitterns. (At least, I don’t think you would.) How to deal with this embarrassment of bittern riches?

Finally, I decided to just share the five best. Or, at least, the five I like the most. Of course, I was unable to keep to just five, but I did keep it well under two hundred. Eventually I will probably find a way to sneak more images into another post, maybe focusing on Botaurus lentiginosus eating a fish. In the meantime, enjoy these shots of Thunder Pumpers and please forgive me for holding on to them for so long without sharing.

If you liked this post and want to see more great images of birds make sure to check out 10,000 Clicks, our big (and growing) page of galleries here at 10,000 Birds.

10,000 Birds is a Scrub Jay-level sponsor of the 15th Annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival.


Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.