In 2019, CLOCA biologists continued their regular monitoring as part of the Durham Region Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program, initiated in 2005. What was remarkable about this year's data was a record of eight Least Bitterns at seven different coastal wetlands this summer!
Each year we target five focal wetland bird species through audio surveys. We broadcast each bird's call on a speaker to elicit a response because they are so secretive and quiet for the most part. You can hear the Least Bittern's call on the Audobon website.
One of these birds is the Least Bittern. As North America’s smallest heron, it can be recognized by its dark (brown/black) crown and back, light (beige/white) underside, and yellow beak and legs. These inconspicuous birds breed in large marshes with tall emergent plants, interspersed with open water.
The Least Bittern is a Species at Risk in Canada and Ontario, and its populations continue to be threatened by wetland loss and degradation, and impaired water quality. To protect the habitat of these important birds, we must continue to work to protect, enhance and restore the natural features in our watersheds, because clearly, our efforts are having a positive impact.