Least Bittern

Here's how to carve the great blue heron's diminutive relation.

By: Glenn A. McMurdo

Glenn McMurdo’s interest in decoy carving began in 1985. Since then Glenn, now a master carver, has written numerous how-to articles and has judged carving competitions from coast to coast across Canada and the United States. His most recent Workbench Project is Green-Winged Teal Pair. Castings of the author’s award-winning, competition-grade carvings are available. Contact Glenn at mcmudocarvings@sympatico.ca or by phone at (905) 372-5821.

While researching a great blue heron project in 2008 I ran across some reference about the least bittern. Where the great blue heron is North America’s largest heron, the least bittern (Ixobruchus exilis) is arguably the smallest. And, yes, the bittern does belong to the heron family. This diminutive little bird caught my attention because of its size and bold colors. It made me wonder how a species so bold in color could blend so well with its background. And blend it does. Although I have tramped around swamps and marshes all my life I can recall ever seeing only three of these birds. After I finished my blue heron, I knew I had to visit the other side of the scale in the heron family, so I developed an original pattern of my own. 

The least bittern’s size depends on its attitude. When at rest with its head and neck pulled in the bird is around eight inches in length, but with its neck extended the bittern can measure up to 14 inches.

Read the rest of this article in Wildfowl Carving Magazine's Summer 2013 issue.


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