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 Least Bittern

Status in Michigan
Uncommon Transient summer resident


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Count totals in the NMB Databases for Least Bittern.

Use the links below to view the Least Bittern reports in the respective databases.
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Active Database - Spring 2005
View Least Bittern sightings.
Least Bittern Archives Reports
Fall 2003 3
Spring 2003 6
Winter 02-03 0
Fall 2002 2
Summer 2002 19
Spring 2002 8
Winter 01-02 0
Fall 2001 2
Summer 2001 3
Spring 2001 12
Winter 00-01 0
Fall 2000 3
Summer 2000 6
Spring 2000 9
Winter 00-99 1
Fall 1999 1
Spring/Summer 1999 1

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Least Bittern




Whitefish Point Bird Observatory
Active Database - Fall 2003
View Fall 2003 sightings.
Whitefish Point Bird Observatory Official Seasonal Count Summaries for the Least Bittern
Fall 1999-Spring 2002
Least Bittern
Note: Some species will not be present in the WPBO archives and will return no records.



Search "The Birds of Michigan" text.

Home - Foreword - Preface - Introduction - Hypothetical List - Literature Cited


Historical Text
The Birds of Michigan - by: Norman A. Wood
MISCELLANEOUS PUBLICATIONS
Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75

Ixobrychus exilis exilis (Gmelin)
Eastern Least Bittern (A.O.U. 1998: Least Bittern)

Summer resident, common in southern tiers of counties and in Cheboygan County; rare and local in the Upper Peninsula.

First listed for Michigan by Sager (1839: 416).

SPRING.-Migration occurs principally in the latter half of May.

Lower Peninsula.-L. W. Campbell (1940: 185, 199) gave May 12 as the average date of arrival for individuals in the Toledo-Erie marsh area and May 16 for main flight; May 1 (1938) was the earliest occurrence of individuals in the area. N. A. Wood recorded arrival at South Rockwood, Monroe County, on May 19, 1934. At Strawberry Island, St. Clair County, 5 were recorded (2 in U.M.M.Z.) May 21 to 24, 1934, by R. E. Olsen and D. W. Douglass. The earliest arrival recorded at Detroit is May 7 (1916, reported by Swales). In the Ann Arbor region, arrival has been reported as early as April 25 (1914), April 29 (1904), and May 1 (1908, specimen in U.M.M.Z.), but more usually in the third and fourth weeks of May. A specimen (U.M.M.Z.) was collected at Portage Lake, Jackson County, on May 22, 1938. The species has been reported from the Battle Creek region on May 11 (in 1936 and 1939), but usually in the third and fourth weeks of May (Walkinshaw). The earliest date for Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, is May 5 (1914), reported by F. W. Rapp (1931: 6). The species is rare at Sand Point, Huron County, but D. "W. Douglass reported 1 there on May 21, 1931. One (U.M.M.Z.) was collected at Manistee, May 31, 1899.

Upper Peninsula.-In Schoolcraft County, Christofferson reported 1 seen at Blaney, on May 22, 1931, and 1 banded at Manistique on May 29 the same year.

SUMMER.-Nesting begins about the last week in May or the first week in June and continues (in the Upper Peninsula) through July.

Lower Peninsula.-On the St. Clair Flats, June 11 and 18, 1899, Swales found this bittern breeding rather abundantly. At Green Lake, in northwestern Oakland County, F. C. Hubel took a set of 5 eggs (U.M.M.Z.) on May 31, 1902. Breeding is commonly reported from Washtenaw County, where Walter Koelz (1916 to 1918) found 15 nests in a 2-aere patch of rushes; from Calhoun County, where Walkinshaw discovered eggs from May 26 (1932) to the last week in June. F. W. Rapp (1931: 6-7) has found nests in the vicinity of Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, between May 25 (1906, nest with 5 eggs) to June 7 (1896, nest with 4 eggs). There are several egg sets (June 1 to June 14) in the Museum of Zoology from Barry County. Near Grand Rapids, B. W. Baker (1940: 112-14) found a nest with 5 eggs on May 26. At Fish Point, Tuscola County, from June 7 to 11, 1926, N. A. Wood noted 8 individuals (1 in U.M.M.Z.). The species was first reported from the Douglas Lake, Cheboygan County, area by Fortner and Metcalf (1929: 249) in 1921 (August 9). Blanchard and Nelson (MS of 1937) reported it common there in the 1930's, recording nestlings from July 3 to July 30 and a fledgling on July 9. T. D. Hinshaw noted several of these bitterns at Barney Lake, Beaver Island, Charlevoix County, on July 14, 1937.

Upper Peninsula.-On June 18, 1922, Magee (1922: 176) and Christofferson found a nest with 5 eggs on Sand Island in Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County. At Blaney, Schoolcraft County, Christofferson discovered a nest with 5 eggs on June 28, 1931, and during that year, from May 22 to July 10, saw a total of 8 Least Bitterns; near Germfask in the same county, E. E. Crawford found 2 nest colonies in 1937. T. D. Hinshaw collected 2 specimens (U.M.M.Z.) on Drummond Island, Chippewa County, on August 13, 1938. An individual was seen on June 17, 1925, in the Huron Mountains, Marquette County (Christy, 1925: 209; S. S. Gregory, Jr., 1929: 174); Van Tyne, Christy, and W. P. Harris, Jr., saw 2 in the same area on June 27, 1936. A. R. Cahn (1918: 490) noted an individual in August, 1914, in the Houghton and Iron counties area.

FALL.-F. W. Rapp (1931: 6) reported departure from Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, on October 5 in 1902. A specimen (U.M.M.Z.) was collected at Portage Lake, Jackson County, on September 2, 1938. In the Ann Arbor region, departure was recorded October 22, 1915, and on December 14,1913, F. M. Gaige collected an injured Least Bittern (U.M.M.Z.) there. The latest occurrence at Detroit is September 20 (1908-Swales). L. W. Campbell (1940: 185, 199) gave September 3 as the average date of departure for individuals in the Toledo-Erie marsh area, and August 20 for main flight. Trautman and E. L. Wickliff observed 10 Least Bitterns at Point Mouillee marsh, Monroe County, on September 14, 1932.

Ixobrychus neoxenus (Cory)
Cory's Bittern

The status of this bittern, as a color phase of the Least Bittern or as a distinct species, has not yet been settled. There are 2 Michigan records: a male (U.M.M.Z.) collected August 24, 1894, at Norvell, Jackson County (L. W. Watkins, 1895: 77; Van Tyne, 1938: 4); a male (Jesse T. Craven collection) taken at St. Clair Flats, St. Clair County, by Ernest Craven on May 14, 2023 (possibly the specimen listed by J. L. Childs, 1906: 73).


Source:
MISCELLANEOUS PUBLICATIONS
Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75
The Birds of Michigan
By: Norman A. Wood
University of Michigan Press
August 28, 2023


(From: "Life Histories of North American Marsh Birds" by: Arthur Cleveland Bent)


IXOBRYCHUS EXIUS EXILIS
(Gmelln)
LEAST BITTERN

HABITS

This pretty little bittern, the most diminutive of the heron tribe, is a summer resident in most of the United States and southern Canada. Messers. Dickey and van Rossem (1924) have recently given a new name, Ixobrychus exilis Tiesperis, to a larger race of this species inhabiting the western United States and Lower California. It is probably more widely distributed and commoner than is generally supposed, for, on account of its quiet, retiring habits it is seldom seen and less often heard by the casual observer. Like the Virginia and the sora rails, it sticks steadfastly to its chosen home in the inner recesses of the dense cat-tail and reedy marshes; even when some small piece of marsh is making its last stand against the encroachments of civilization, the bitterns and rails may still be found there, attending strictly to their own business, coming and going under the cover of darkness and unmindful of their outside surroundings. I can remember three such bits of marsh, near the centers of cities in Massachusetts, in which the rails and bitterns continued to breed until they were driven out as the marshes were filled.

Thus this quiet, retiring, and seemingly timid bird may live its listless life almost within our midst and without our knowledge, unless we choose to invade its home in the oozy bog, to wallow in mud and water and to push through the forest of cat-tails and reeds. There we may catch a glimpse of it, as it flops feebly away just over the tops of the reeds or, if we stand and watch, we may detect a gentle, swaying motion in the rushes, as a strange object appears which was not there before, like a dry and yellow flag, tapering to a long sharp point above and fading into the rushes below; now it stands stiff and still like the surrounding flags; but if we stare at it long and hard, we can see two bright yellow eyes watching us and can make out the distorted form of a bird, the hiding pose of the least bittern. How well it matches its surroundings, how well it knows that fact and how well fitted it is to survive among the tall, slender reeds and flags, one of nature's triumphs in protective mimicry!

Nesting. -The nesting habits of the least bittern vary considerably in various parts of its range, where it adapts itself to the conditions it finds in different kinds of swamps. The commonest type of nest found in Massachusetts is built in the tall, dense growths of cat-tail flags, which grow in water from 1 to 3 feet deep, rarely the latter. The nest is placed from a few inches to three or four feet, very rarely five feet, above the water. A foundation is made by bending down and interlacing the tops of the flags, on which a flimsy, flat nest of dry flags, grass, or reeds is built; this is so small, flat and apparently in- secure that it seems as if it would hardly hold the eggs, but it usually proves to be quite sufficient to hold both eggs and young as long as necessary. The nest is usually placed where the flags or reeds grow very thickly and the tops are often interlaced above it for additional concealment; the nest is not conspicuous, but it can generally be recognized as a thick bunch in the reeds.

Dr. B. R. Bales (1911) gives a very good account of the nesting habits of the least bittern in an Ohio pond, as follows:

This pond, or swamp, is from one-fourth to one-half mile across and the water is from one to three feet deep. It is thickly dotted with buttonwood bushes. Wild rose thickets fringe the shores; saw grasses, tall water grasses, and calamus or sweet flag (from which the pond receives its name) are found in its shallower places and cat-tails further out. It is an ideal nesting place for this species; in June, 1907,1 found 14 nests between the fourth and the twenty-first. The nests are mainly placed among the saw grasses in shallow water and are situated from 6 inches to 21^ feet above water; 18 inches is the average height. The nests are composed of saw grass blades, short lengths of smartweed stalks, slender twigs from the buttonwood, and about half the nests examined are lined with finer grasses; at the best the nests are very flimsy, frail, and loosely put together. Occasionally a nest is found composed almost entirely of a tall round water grass, but nests so composed are always built in a clump of this variety of grass. Saw grasses are usually bent over to form a platform on which to build the nest; these grasses are often bent over a small branch of buttonwood to give stability to the platform. An occasional nest is built among the diverging twigs of the buttonwood bush, much in the manner of a green heron nest, but nesting sites of this type are rare.

Dr. Clinton G. Abbott (1907) mentions a nest found in the marshes of New Jersey which " was situated in the top of a tuft of sedges which was growing on a large floating bog. It was open to the sky and almost surrounded by open water." Dr. Paul Harrington tells me of a nest, found near South Georgian Bay, which was composed entirely of small sticks, no rushes being used in its construction, and placed in a clump of rushes 3 feet above the water. I have seen nests in Texas which were made partially or wholly of fine twigs and similarly placed in cat-tail flags. Julian K. Potter has sent me several photographs of least bitterns' nests, taken near Camden, New Jersey; one of these was in a buttonbush (Cephalanthus) and was made of sticks, laid radially, like the spokes of a wheel; another was prettily situated in a clump of arrow head lily (Sagittaria).

In Florida we found the least bittern fairly common, nesting in the big saw-grass marshes and in the smaller bogs and sloughs, where the big, sleek boat-tailed grackles, in their glistening black plumage, were swinging on the reed tops and pouring out their curious half-musical notes where the bubbling notes of the marsh wrens greeted us from the dense growth below and where the deadly moccasin lurked in the morass under foot. Had we cared to explore such places more thoroughly we doubtless could have found many more nests. In a small slough, about 30 yards square, on Merritt's Island, full of large tussocks of tall grass, as high as a man's head, we found two nests of the least bittern and five nests of the boat-tailed grackle. The bit- terns nests were merely crude platforms or shallow baskets of coarse straws and grasses in the densest parts of the large tussocks. One was 24 and one 30 inches above the shallow water; the nests measured 7 by 4 and 7 by 5 inches, and held four eggs each on April 26.

Near Brownsville, Texas, we found several nests of the least bit- tern on May 23, 1923, in a marshy pond where the Mexican grebes were nesting. The bitterns' nests were in small clumps of tall cat- tail flags; some were the usual nests of dead flags and others were partially or wholly made of twigs of the water huisache, which was growing in the pond. George Finlay Simmons (1915o) describes another Texas nest, as follows:

The nest was supported by several rushes, dead reeds, and the broken stem of a small persimmon sapling growing in the pond. At this point the reeds and rushes were not so thick, and the nest and eggs could easily be seen at a distance of 15 or 20 feet. The bottom of the nest just touched the water, which was there about 18 inches deep. The nest itself was quite firmly built, with few loose ends projecting from the mass. It was built entirely of straight stems and twigs of a brushy reed which grows about the ponds, quite different from the flexible reeds and rushes used in the construction of the nests of the other water birds of the region. It measured about 6% inches across the top and 5 inches high, being cone shaped and tapering towards the bottom. So flat was the top of the nest that it seemed the slightest jar would cause the eggs to roll off, for there were no rushes or grasses to guard the sides of the nest as in the case of the rails and gallinules.

Eggs.-The least bittern lays ordinarily four or five eggs, some- times six and very rarely seven. Richard C. Harlow writes to me:

I have examined probably 50 of their nests; probably 70 per cent of the complete sets are five in number, though I have inspected seven nests holding sets of six and one of seven, all undoubtedly laid by the same bird.

The eggs are quite uniformly oval in shape, rarely showing a tendency towards elliptical oval or ovate. The shell is smooth but not glossy. The color is bluish white or greenish white. The measurements of 58 eggs average 31 by 23.5 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 33 by 25, 28 by 23.5 and 29 by 22.5 millimeters.

Young.-Both sexes incubate and the period of incubation is said to be 16 or 17 days. Ira N. Gabrielson (1914) gives a very good account of how the parents brood over and feed their young, which he observed from a blind, as follows:

One or the other of the parents kept the nest covered throughout the day and both assumed the same position. They sat on the nest with the wings spread in such a manner as to give the body a curious flattened appearance while the head and neck were extended to their full length with the beak pointing straight in the air. Occasionally the head was lowered for an instant to examine the young but almost immediately was raised again. Every bird that flew by was watched and every movement in the surrounding vegetation seemed to be noted by the bird on the nest. This position had the advantage of elevating the eye& some distance above the nest and gave the bird a better view of what was going on around. I was curious to see how these newly hatched young would get their food; to see if they were fed as the young American bitterns had been. At 10.50 the bright colored little male alighted on the platform behind the nest and stood there watching the female who was on the nest. From time to time he allowed the beak to hang open and shook his head in a comical way. After he had been doing this for 10 minutes, the female stepped from the nest and flew away. The male took her place and stood, still shaking his head. All of the brood, including the one just hatched, were jumping at his beak. Finally one of them succeeded in securing a hold on it and pulled his head down toward the nest. His beak was seized at right angles by that of the young as in the case of the American bittern. Instead of the violent contortions which preceded the act of regurgitation in the other species, a few convulsive jerks of the throat and neck muscles brought the food into the mouth, from which it passed into that of the young in the same manner as before. The food instead of being in a compact mass was more of a liquid containing pieces of small frogs and occasionally whole ones. These nestlings had not yet become proficient in their strange manner of feeding and more or less of the food material fell into the nest. When this happened, the young which were not receiving food at the time seized it and swallowed it. When two secured a hold on the same frog, an exciting tug of war followed until one or the other was victorious. All five young were fed at each visit, and it seemed to be as instinctive for them to jump at the beak of the parent as it is for other young birds to raise the opened beak. During the day the male and female alternated in the care of the nest but the brooding periods of the latter were much the longer. She seldom remained away any length of time. On the other hand the male did all the feeding, four times, during the day. The female evidently hunted only for her own food during her absences from the nest while the male foraged for both the nestlings and himself. Both parents did their hunting on an extensive mud flat about 200 yards from the nest.

Doctor Bales (1911) says of the behavior of young least bitterns:

Another nest discovered the same day contained six young in which the pin- feathers were showing. It is doubtful if this nest would have been discovered, had I not seen one of the young birds clinging to one of the round water grasses fully a foot above the nest. While perched upon the slender, swaying water grass, they have a peculiarly pert and saucy look that is ludicrous in the extreme They are excellent climbers and use their long necks and bills in climbing by hooking the head over the perch and using it as a sort of hook to aid them in scrambling up, The feet are very strong. The young in this nest tried to peck my hand as I placed it above them; they acted like trained soldiers, all pecking at exactly the same time, as if at a word of command.

Plumages.- The downy young least bittern is well covered on the head and back with long, soft, buffy down, "ochraceous buff" to "light ochraceous buff"; the under" parts are more scantily covered with paler, more whitish down.

In the Juvenal plumage the sexes are much alike, but the crown is darker in the young male and the dusky shaft streaks on the throat, breast and wing coverts are more conspicuous in the young female. The juvenal plumage closely resembles that of the adult female; but the crown and back are somewhat lighter brown, the feathers of the back and scapulars are edged or tipped with buffy, and the buff feathers with dusky shaft streaks give the throat and breast a striped appearance; the buffy, lesser wing coverts also have dusky shaft streaks. The buffy edgings of the dorsal feathers generally wear away before October, leaving the back clear brown; but the juvenal wing coverts are more or less persistent, especially in females, until the first postnuptial molt the next summer. At this complete molt in August young birds become indistinguishable from adults. There is apparently no well-marked seasonal difference in the plumages of adults, but the sexual difference becomes apparent during the first spring and is well marked thereafter.

It now seems to be generally conceded that the dark form, known as the Cory least bittern, Ixobrychus neoxenus (Cory), is not a distinct species, but a case of melanism or erythrism, such as occasionally occurs in other species of birds and animals. Some 30 specimens have been recorded; the largest numbers have been taken in Florida and Ontario; but it has also been taken in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. It is a striking case of high pigmentation which seems likely to turn up almost anywhere within the range of the least bittern, and it is sometimes combined with traces of albinism. It should not be called a color phase of a dichromatic species, as it occurs too rarely and irregularly. A dichromatic species, it seems to me, is one in which two color phases occur regularly, such as in the reddish egret, the parasitic Jaeger, and the screech owl.

Since writing the above I have been much interested in what Oscar E. Baynard has told me about the Cory least bittern. He has had considerable field experience with it, has found several nests and is firmly convinced that it is a distinct species. He says that these dark colored birds never mate with ordinary least bitterns, but always with birds of their own kind, breeding true to color. He also says that the downy young are coal black, "as black as young rails," that all the young in the nest are also black and that he has never seen any buff colored young in the same nest with the black ones. If these facts hold true in all cases they are strong evidences of the validity of the species.

Food.-The least bittern is an active feeder, walking stealthily about in the marshes and bogs, and hunting for the various forms of animal life found in such places. One that Audubon (1840) had in captivity was "expert at seizing flies, and swallowed caterpillars, and other insects." He has also found "small shrews and field mice" in its stomach. Small fishes tadpoles, and small frogs probably make up a large part of its food; but lizards, snails, slugs, leeches, beetles, and other insects are included. One that C. J. Maynard (1896) had in captivity killed and devoured a pet hummingbird.

Behavior.-When surprised or suddenly flushed the least bittern rises in weak and awkward, fluttering flight, with neck extended and feet dangling, usually dropping down into the marsh again at a short distance; but when going somewhere on a long flight, it draws in its head and extends its legs behind, after the manner of the herons, and proceeds with a strong, direct flight which may be quite protracted and rather swift. If not too much hurried, it seems to prefer to escape by walking, or climbing, through the reeds, at which it is very expert and makes remarkable speed. Where the water is too deep to wade and where the reeds grow close together the bittern walks, or even runs, through them at a height of 2 or 3 feet above the water, grasping a single upright reed or two or three of them together with each foot; often it is a wide, straddling gait, with many long strides; it is accomplished with so much speed, skill, and accuracy as to seem little short of marvellous; like a squirrel in the tree tops, or a marsh wren in the reeds, there seems to be never a slip or a missed step. When wading in shallow water, or walking on land, its movements are quick and graceful, its head shooting forward at each step. To facilitate its passage through the narrow spaces between the reeds, it has the power of compressing body laterally; Audubon (1840) found by experiment that it would compress its body sufficiently to pass through a space 1 inch wide.

The well known hiding pose, or reed like attitude, of the least bit- tern is well described by Dr. Arthur A. Alien (1915), as follows:

I parted the flags and counted the eggs before I finally perceived that there, on the back of the nest and in perfectly plain sight, stood the female bird less than 3 feet from my eyes. Under other circumstances, I should not have called it a bird, such was the strangeness of the shape which it had assumed. The photograph showing the " reed posture " gives one but a poor conception of the bird's real appearance at this time. The feathers were fairly glued to the body, and the head and neck appeared no thicker than some of the dried reeds that composed the nest. The bill, pointing directly upward, widened barely appreciably into the head and neck, and the feathers of the lower neck were held free from the body and compressed to as narrow a point as the bill at the other end. The neck appeared to be entirely separate from the body, which was flattened so as to become but a part of the nest itself. There was not a movement, not even a turning of the serpent like eyes which glared at me over the corners of the mouth. Every line was stiff and straight, every curve was an angle. It mattered not that all about the vegetation was a brilliant green, while the bird was buffy brown. It was no more a bird than was the nest below it. I recalled the habit of the American bittern of rotating so as always to keep its striped neck towards the observer, and I moved slowly to another side of the nest. But this bird was not relying upon the color of its neck to conceal it. It was quite as unbirdlike from any angle, and it moved not a feather.

But this was not its only method of concealment, as was shown a few minutes later. I parted the flags directly in front of the bird, to see how close an approach it would permit. My hands came within 12 inches of it before it melted away over the back of the nest. Its movements were apparently very deliberate, and yet almost instantaneously it disappeared into the flags. It did not go far, and in a very few minutes it came back. Very slowly it pushed its vertical neck and upturned bill between the flags until it just fitted the space between two of the upright stalks at the back of the nest. No longer were the feathers drawn closely to the neck, which was at this time the only part visible. Instead, they were shaken out to their fullest expanse, and hung square across the base, instead of pointed. The dark feathers arranged themselves into stripes, and simulated well the shadows between the flags. Again I moved around the nest, and this time, instead of remaining motionless, the bird also rotated so as always to present its striped front to me and conceal its body. This was evidently a second and entirely different stratagem.

The same careful observer says of the notes of the male:

His notes were guttural and dovelike, or even froglike when heard in the distance, resembling the syllables, uh-uh-uh-oo~oo-oo-oo-oooah, similar to one of the calls of the pied-billed grebe. The call, when given close at hand, often drew a response from the female of two or three short notes, like the syllables uk-uk-uk.

Doctor Chapman (1900) describes the notes of the least bittern as:
"A soft, low coo, slowly repeated five or six times, and which is probably the love song of the male; an explosive alarm note, quoh; a hissing hah, with which the bird threatens a disturber of its nest; and a low tut-tut-tut, apparently a protest against the same kind of intrusion."

William Brewster (1902) writes:

Nor do we often hear its voice save during a brief period at the height of the breeding season when the male, concealed among the rank vegetation of his secure retreats, utters a succession of low, cooing sounds varying somewhat in number as well as in form with different birds or even with the same individual at different times. The commoner variations are as follows: Coo, hoo-hoo-hoo (the first and last syllables slightly and about evenly accented), coo-coo, coo-hoo-hoo (with distinct emphasis on the last syllable only), co-co-co-co, co-co-ho-ho or co- ho-ho (all without special emphasis on any particular syllable). These notes are uttered chiefly in the early morning and late afternoon, usually at rather infrequent intervals but sometimes every four or five seconds for many minutes at a time. When heard at a distance they have a soft, cuckoo like quality; nearer the bird's voice sounds harder and more like that of the domestic pigeon, while very close at hand it is almost disagreeably hoarse and raucous as well as hollow and somewhat vibrant in tone. Besides this cooing the least bittern occasion- ally emits, when startled a loud, cackling ca-ca-ca-ca.

Enemies.-Young least bitterns have many enemies, birds of prey and crows overhead, predatory animals prowling through the marshes and crawling reptiles in the mud and water. From these enemies the young birds are partially successful in escaping by their ability in climbing and hiding among the reeds. Crows undoubtedly destroy a great many eggs and even the diminutive long-billed marsh wren punctures the eggs, perhaps maliciously. Doctor Chapman (1900) found that some of the eggs, in two nests he was watching, had "been punctured, as if by an awl," and afterward saw a long-billed marsh �wren puncture the remaining eggs; apparently the contents of the eggs were not eaten by the wren.

DISTRIBUTION

Breeding range.- Central America, the United States and southern Canada. East to Now Brunswick (St. John); Maine (Portland); Massachusetts (Essex County); New York (Rockaway); New Jersey (Cape May); District of Columbia (Washington); North Carolina (Pea Island and Lake Ellis); South Carolina (Charleston and Frog- more) ; Florida (Titusville); and Porto Rico (San Juan). South to Porto Rico (San Juan); Jamaica (Port Henderson); southwestern Guatemala (Duenas); and central Mexico (Toluca and Lake Patzcuaro). West to western Mexico (Mazatlan); Lower California (Purissima); California (Santa Monica and Stockton); and Oregon (Tule Lake). North to Oregon (Tule Lake); North Dakato (Ken- mare) ; Minnesota (White Earth and Minneapolis); Michigan (Grand Rapids and Detroit); southern Ontario (Mildmay, Coldwater, Toronto, and Ewart); and New Brunswick (St. John).

It has also been recorded in summer from Nova Scotia (Halifax); Panama (Lion Hill Station); Southern Saskatchewan (Crane Lake); Manitoba (Lake Manitoba and Shoal Lake) and from Quebec.

Winter range.-Florida, islands of the Caribbean Sea and Central and South America south to Patagonia. East to Florida (Micanopy); the Bahama Islands (Nassau); Cuba (Isle of Pines); British Guiana (Georgetown); and Brazil (Iguape). South to Paraguay (Asuncion); and Chile (Valdivia). West to Peru (Lima); central Mexico (Valley of Mexico and Lake Patzcuaro); to the west coast (Tepic). North to central Arizona (Fort Verde, Yavapai County); Florida (Micanopy); and Georgia (Athens).

Belated migrants or winter stragglers have been seen or taken at points much farther north: Rhode Island (Providence, March 1 and February 28, 2023); Nova Scotia (Halifax, March 16, 2023); Michigan (Detroit, November 6,2023); and Ontario (Point Pelee, November 28, 2023).

Spring migration.-Early dates of arrival are: Georgia, Savannah, March 6; South Carolina, Frogmore, April 5; North Carolina, Man- too, April 20; District of Columbia, Washington, April 27; Pennsylvania, Limerick, April 22; New Jersey, Long Beach, April 1, and Camden, April 22; New York, near New York City, April 10, Rhine- beck, May 13, and Rochester, May 6; and Massachusetts, Essex County, April 15. In the Mississippi Valley: Louisiana, Rigolets, March 11, and New Orleans, April 9; Missouri, Jonesburg, April 20, and Alexandria, April 19; Illinois, Peoria, April 17, and Chicago, April 24; Indiana, Waterloo, April 7; Ohio, Painesville, April 9, Cleveland, April 13, Oberlin, April 25, and Sandusky, April 25; Michigan, Battle Creek, April 10, and Grand Rapids, April 17; Ontario, Point Pelee, May 13, and Guelph, May 17; Iowa, Cedar Rapids, April 28; Wisconsin, Berlin, April 1, and Sparta, April 11; Minnesota, Elk River, April 17, Wilder, May 2, and Heron Lake, May 9. In the Great Plains area: Texas, Corpus Christi, April 5, and Gainesville, April 25; Kansas, Elmsdale, April 26; Nebraska, Turlington, May 6; South Dakota, Sioux Falls, May 11.

In the Rocky Mountain region the spring arrivals are generally later: Colorado, South Park, May 14; Wyoming, Fossil, May 21; and Montana, Great Falls, May 16. The species arrives in southern California late in March and early in April (near Escondido, March 28) ; but it is not until after the middle of May that southern Oregon is reached (Klamath Lake, May 21).

Fall migration. - Late dates of fall departure on the Atlantic sea- board are: Quebec, Montreal, September 2; Massachusetts, East Templeton, October 27, and Newburyport, September 12; Rhode Island, near Middletown, September 14, and Providence, September 30; Connecticut, New Haven, September 22; New York, Verona, September 1, and Duchess County, September 11; Pennsylvania, Erie, September 25; District of Columbia, Washington, September 25; and North Carolina, Raleigh, September 11. In the Mississippi Valley the dates for departure are somewhat later: Ontario, Ottawa, September 1, and Point Pelee, September 2; Michigan, Ann Arbor, October 1, and Vicksburg, October 2; Ohio, Sandusky, October 3, and Cedar Point, October 17; Indiana, Waterloo, October 1; Illinois, War- saw, October 10: Wisconsin, Madison, September 23, and North Freedom, October 10; Iowa, Indianola, October 18; South Dakota, Sioux Falls, October 8; Nebraska, Lincoln, September 20, and Belvidere, October 5; Texas, Corpus Christi, September 29; and California, Dunlap, September 24.

Casual records.-Stragglers north of the normal range have been reported from Manitoba (Oak Point, Lake Manitoba, October 20, 1907, Shoal Lake, June 1901, and York Factory, 1879).

The color phase of the least bittern that has been known as Cory's Least Bittern, Ixobrychus neoxenus, has been found breeding in southern Florida (Lake Okeechobee, Lake Flirt, and Fort Thompson) and in Southern Ontario (Toronto). It has been taken or reported in spring from Massachusetts, Scituate, May 18, 1901; Ohio, Toledo, May 25, 1907; Michigan, St. Clair Flats, May 14,1904; and Wisconsin, Lake Koshkonong, May 22,1893. The only fall record outside of the breeding area is from near Manchester, Michigan, August 8, 1894.

Egg dates.-Southern New England and New York: 30 records May 20 to June 23; 15 records, May 29 to June 11. Michigan and Wisconsin: 32 records, May 27 to July l; 16 records, May 30 to June 12. Illinois: 35 records, May 22 to July 10; 18 records, May 30 to June 21. Florida: 22 records, March 25 to June 26; 11 records, April 26 to June 5.


Digitized by: Keith F. Saylor
[email protected]





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