by Alyssa Womer
Wildlife Services Intern
On July 6th, a member of the public found a fledgling bittern wandering around in his yard in
This might not be unusual, as most fledgling birds spend a lot of time on the
ground exploring how their wings work and figuring out how to eat without the
help of their parents. However, the American Bittern inhabits freshwater
wetlands populated by dense reeds, and our bittern was discovered over a mile
from the nearest body of water! Putney, VT.
Upon arrival at VINS, we discovered that the bird was thin, likely because he was orphaned. We tube-fed the bittern a rehydrating solution and some fish slurry (a blended mixture of small fish, high-protein dog food, and vitamins), and he perked up in no time! By his second day in our care, the bittern was ready to eat whole dead fish, which we fed to him via tweezers. After a few days, we began leaving live minnows in a small pool in his enclosure. We continued to feed him a mixture of live and dead fish as well as small dead mice.