New York Natural Heritage Program
Least Bittern
Ixobrychus exilis (Gmelin, 1789)
Least Bittern Sandy Muller, Irene Mazzocchi
Family: Herons, Bitterns, and Egrets (Ardeidae)

State Protection: Threatened
A native species likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future in New York (includes any species listed as federally Threatened by the United States). It is illegal to take, import, transport, possess, or sell an animal listed as Threatened, or its parts, without a permit from NYSDEC. 1) Any native species likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future in New York. 2) Any species listed as threatened by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Federal Protection: Migratory Bird Treaty Act
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act implements various treaties and conventions between the U. S. and Canada, Japan, Mexico and the former Soviet Union for the protection of migratory birds. Under this Act, taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds, including nests or eggs, is unlawful unless specifically permitted by other regulations.

State Rarity Rank: S3B,S1N
A State Rarity Rank of S3B,S1N means: Typically 21 to 100 breeding occurrences or limited breeding acreage and typically 5 or fewer non-breeding (usually winter residents) occurrences in New York State.

Global Rarity Rank: G5
A Global Rarity Rank of G5 means: Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

Did you know?
When Least Bitterns are alarmed, instead of flying away they often freeze and point their bill upward to blend with the surrounding vegetation.

State Ranking Justification [-]
The first Breeding Bird Atlas (1980-1985) reported 142 blocks and the second Breeding Bird Atlas (2000-2005) reported 129 blocks (Andrle and Carroll 1988 and McGowan and Corwin 2008). It appears that populations have declined by about 9% when comparing the two atlases. One of the most significant threats to this species is loss of appropriate habitat. New York State has lost over half of its wetlands since colonization (Tiner 1984 cited in NatureServe 2003).

Short-term Trends [-]

Long-term Trends [-]