DAVIDSON TOWNSHIP, SULLIVAN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — From a sealed and ventilated box Tuesday morning, a rare American Bittern burst free into the wetlands area of Splash Dam Pond in state game lands. The bird, considered part of the heron family, is back in the wild for the first time in seven weeks. “To be able to take an injured bird like this and get it back out into the habitat where it belongs is just a great experience,” said PA Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Bill Williams.
This American Bittern had suffered a wounded wing and needed rehab at the Carbon County Environmental Center. It was brought there in late March after a Bloomsburg man discovered it in his yard. Now sufficiently healed, the rare, large bird with the long legs and neck earned its freedom. It also drew a small crowd of Pennsylvania Game Commission officials and family members. “It’s exciting. I have my binoculars and I have, you know, my camera. It’s just so really neat to see it,” said Ricketts Glen State Park Ranger Sarah Linn.
The bird that’s part of an endangered species in Pennsylvania made its way into the grassy marsh where it was difficult to detect. “It was very camouflaged so it started walking out and it just completely blended right in with the grasses and the weeds,” said Ms. Linn.
With the rehabilitated rare bird somewhere now in the thicket, it’s less a case of flight to freedom and more just getting its feet wet. Doug Gross who is the PA Game Commission Supervisor of the non-game endangered bird section said, “This is a place that he can just walk around for a while without having being forced to fly so it can fly when it chooses to.” It will feed on such things as fish, frogs and insects making this survival story significant. “Because Bitterns are so rare, every Bittern counts,” said Ofc. Williams.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission believes there are less than 20 American Bitterns statewide.