The least bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) is a rare and local breeder in BCR 14. Its habitat is restricted to freshwater wetlands with tall dense vegetation. It is listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in one or more states in BCR 14.
This bird prefers freshwater and brackish marshes with tall dense vegetation such as cattails, sedges, bulrush and buttonbush. Scattered patches of woody vegetation are also preferred habitat components. It will use the edges of lakes, rivers and impoundments if tall dense vegetation is present. It feeds primarily on small fish, crustaceans, frogs, snakes, salamanders and, occasionally, small mammals such as mice or shrews.
Its territory size is unknown but nesting densities of one nest per 4 acres of usable habitat have been reported.
Habitat Management Practices
Preserve wetlands larger than 12½ acres with emergent vegetation at least 3 feet high and patches of open water from 4 to 20 inches deep.