On Tuesday, April 16, Nancy Massey was driving home when she spotted a rare bird next to the road near her home on Cuptree Drive (formerly Lake Rd. 135-3). An American Bittern was a few feet off the roadside catching the attention of many local residents as the bird 'posed' for photos.
Near extinction due to loss of habitat, the American Bittern is considered an endangered species, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). They prefer dense marsh where they feast on fish, and insects. The Bittern, being part of the heron family has long slow steps, they have a wonderful sense of being watched where they become totally motionless with their beaks pointed upward helping them to blend in with the trees and brush they live in.
The Bittern winters in far southern U.S. and Central America and spends summers in Canada. They used to be considered a delicacy in southern Louisiana. A Bittern typically travels solo, and this one is believed to be passing through on his voyage north. According to the MDC, the birds do occasionally stop over, however, this is not common behavior.