American Bittern at Kachina Wetlands
27 May 2008, 8:26 PM,
American Bittern at Kachina Wetlands
Seen often today for about 2 hours at various spots among the shoreline reeds on the pine-covered island in the central pond (the first one you encounter with water).

Isn't this an unusual bird around here? I don't recall hearing about them, and a search of this site turned up no mentions in this area.
27 May 2008, 8:33 PM,
I can't speak for up there, but in the Verde they were formerly regular at Peck's Lake and sightings stopped by the early 90's. Habitat changes there were the presumed cause I think.

The preferred habitat is hard to find in NoAZ. Sedona Wastewater is the only place in the Verde I can think of with large suitable areas and there are no reports from that location.
27 May 2008, 9:44 PM,
There are no recent records of American Bittern in the Flagstaff area. According to "The Birds of Arizona", Mearns found this species to be abundant at Mormon Lake in 1887, and it reportedly nested at lakes on the Mogollon Plateau before 1915. Great find, Dave!
27 May 2008, 10:12 PM,
Poor photo, but will serve to document sighting
Bird was just too far for my lens, so I had to do major cropping in photoshop.

Attached Files Image(s)
28 May 2008, 7:34 AM,
American Bittern still present
Chuck LaRue and I saw the American Bittern at Kachina Wetlands today, 28 May, from 6:15 to 7:15 am. Again, it was at the first water-filled pond and was fairly conspicuous along the south shore and on the pine covered island.
29 May 2008, 10:47 AM,
I met several birders last evening looking for this marvelous find but it was a no-show.

Cold and windy conditions may have kept it hunkered down, they can be very secretive and are well camouflaged.

My experience with this species suggests it could likely still be around and Chuck concurs. The Gilbert bird a couple years ago literally stood in the same spot for days eating frogs.
29 May 2008, 12:59 PM,
Still there!
Well Tom, you are right on! I saw the bird again at about 11:45 AM today, Th 5/29. It was skulking in the reeds (of course!) on the NE shore of the pine covered island. For those present at the strikeout last evening, it was very near the Pied-billed Grebe nest we were watching. (Isn't that probably bad news for the potential Grebe eggs/chicks?)
29 May 2008, 6:42 PM,
'New Mexico Bruce' and I watched the American Bittern for at least half an hour 5:15-5:45 this evening; it was quite close and spent some of the time in the open rather than skulking in the reeds.

It was still in Dave's pond, but closer to the north end - between the walkway and the island with the birdboxes (which is to the north than the pine covered island.)
29 May 2008, 8:27 PM,
Ditto - thanks Dave!
31 May 2008, 7:49 AM,
Bittern still there and another?
I was listening to a weird "water-drop sound" coming from the north pond (1), but could not see anything and turned around to find the bittern watching me in the pond immediately south (2). Could it be that there are 2 birds there? Breeding Bird Atlas suggests that any presence after mid-May is suspicious for breeding. Keep your eyes and ears open. It was 5/30 at about 5:30 pm.
31 May 2008, 3:06 PM,
Unfortunately, I heard no water drop noises this morning (5-31) and saw no bitterns, but as I was setting up to take my first photo ever through a scope, out jumped a Virginia Rail, so I'm not too bitter. That darn rail wouldn't keep still, but it was located in the far northeast corner of the north pond. Sorry about the style of the photo. It's kind of artistic. I also heard two soras and there are still quite a few ducks still around, so I'm including a photo of one just to show that my technique is improving. Also, the Ruddy Ducks are putting up quite a show with all the bill snapping and dancing around.

Attached Files Image(s)
31 May 2008, 3:11 PM,
let me try posting that rail again

Attached Files Image(s)
1 Jun 2008, 7:14 AM,
Nice photos.

They'd be even better if you cropped them to accentuate the bird and resized them down to web size (75kb instead of ca. 700 kb each) for quick downloading.
1 Jun 2008, 5:19 PM,
We love the photos - keep 'em coming! - but please read the Image Posting Tips and crop and resize images down into the 640 pixels wide range.

It takes literally a few seconds of your time and accommodates all the varying screen resolutions and connection speeds out there so all may enjoy your images.
2 Jun 2008, 8:52 AM,
Bittern on Sunday
Todd and I finally saw the bittern on Sunday, June 1, around 9:30 in the usual spot.

2 Jun 2008, 7:34 PM,
Ok I am confused, when I read about the kachina wetlands I was under the impression they were the ponds right by the park off the kachina exit. Now that there is mention of a pine island and bird boxes I am not sure where the wetlands are. Could someone give me direction as to where they are for the sightings. Thanks Debbie
2 Jun 2008, 9:58 PM,
Kachina Wetlands directions
See directions on this site at
3 Jun 2008, 8:42 PM,
No Bittern tonight
I drove to Kachina Wetlands after work this evening hoping that the mudflats might be attracting shorebirds, but aside from a few Spotted Sandpiper and baby Killdeer, nothing else.

Unfortunately, the water between Bittern Island (treeless) and the berm road, is drying up and neither me nor Ken Murphy found it there. The wind was, as usual, obnoxious.

All the usual stuff there, the most interesting a GBHE.


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