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I've been trying all day to figure out what this bird is, could somebody please chime in.  Seems like a juvenile, about 6 in tall but hard to tell cuz he keeps putting his head in the air whenever I get within eyesight

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Thanks for replying so quickly !  The Illinois river is close but it's not close enough for birds that prefer a water environment, there are no fish or aquatic life for it to eat here.   I've never seen a bird like it and I'd like to help it out because after reading the description I think it could be lost/confused, any tips on what they like to eat or shelter preferences.

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17 minutes ago, jayson1011 said:

he keeps putting his head in the air whenever I get within eyesight

Bitterns live in tall marshes.  Raising the head is an instinctive behavior to blend in with the surrounding grass.  Notice in the first and last photos that you can still see the bird's eyes even with the head raised.  That's an adaptation allowing it to see in that defensive posture.

You aren't doing it intentionally but the bird may be disturbed by your presence.  I wouldn't worry about it too much.  As you may have gathered, this is not a bird you're likely to see on a regular basis.

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, jayson1011 said:

I'd like to help it out because after reading the description I think it could be lost/confused,

Don't worry about it.  This is an adult bird returning to the north for breeding season.  It may find a suitable location in your area but you're on the southern edge of its summer range.  It's more likely to spend the night before moving farther north. Enjoy it while it's there.

They'll eat anything they can find in a swamp - fish, invertebrates, frogs, snakes, etc.  They're hunters and don't come to feeders for seed.

Seriously green here.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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1 hour ago, jayson1011 said:

6 in tall

That right there is why perceived size is unreliable in the field. Awesome bird! I wonder how it got there...?

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Thank you all so much for your feedback.  I've been wondering too why it chose my yard because I don't have anything it would want.  Just enjoying watching him peek out at me from time to time and enjoying his company, sounds like he'll be moving on soon.

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12 hours ago, jayson1011 said:

Thank you all so much for your feedback.  I've been wondering too why it chose my yard because I don't have anything it would want.  Just enjoying watching him peek out at me from time to time and enjoying his company, sounds like he'll be moving on soon.

@jayson1011 welcome to Whatbird!

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