|American Bittern Blending with his Surroundings|
|American Bittern out for a Look Around|
(notice how he can point his bill up while looking down)
- Know about the habitat of the birds you want to find. Since we knew where to find the bird, we paid special attention to areas where the bittern may be hiding.
- Know when to look for the bird. The eBird website has valuable information here. It tells me that the American Bittern is found most commonly at Viera Wetlands between October and April. So I knew in November there was a decent chance of one being there.
- Learn bird calls. If you recognize the "ker-plunk!" sound of an American Bittern, you'll know to stop and watch.
- Look for movement. When we saw only one section of reeds moving, we knew it wasn't the wind. The bittern was on the move.
- Walk/drive slowly and quietly. I suppose this goes without saying. It's easy to walk right by birds that are good at hiding, and it's easy to spook them with noises. Take the time to be observant, and look at the same area from several vantage points.
- Stay concealed as much as possible. If you can remain behind a tree or other obstacle, you wil be less threatening. Staying low to the ground also helps. For some birds, staying in your car is less threatening than leaving it. I stayed in my car to photograph this bittern. If I opened the car door to get closer, I suspect that the bittern would have crouched out of view or flown away.
- Be Still. When we see the bird we're looking for, we're often quick to move our camera or binoculars up to our eyes. But sudden movements even as small as this can cause the bird the bird to fly away. If I'm anticipating finding a bird, I raise my camera up almost to chin level so that I don't have to make any quick movements to get the camera to my eye.
|American Bittern in Flight|