Birds – Bitterns

The only other members of the group to be mentioned are the Bitterns, which are distinguished at once by having only ten tail-feathers and the middle toe with its claw about equal to or greatly exceeding the tarsus. Several genera have been de-scribed, the most typical and important being Botaurus, which embraces what may be called the true Bitterns. They are small or medium-sized birds with a mottled plumage of buff, brown, and black; the neck is shorter and thicker and the head proportionally larger than in the Herons, and the head is without plumes. They haunt swamps and marshes, where their striped dress harmonizes admirably with the rushes and reeds. They are not at all gregarious, it being rare to find more than two in company even in the nesting season. They feed on crustaceans, lizards, frogs, and insects, and build a loose nest of grasses, etc., usually on the ground in marshes. The eggs are from three to five, pale olive-buff or bluish white in color.