To share what I know about this rather confusing issue, the illustrations in the Australian Bird Guide are not all that easy to understand. Accordingly some time ago I sent the author, Danny Rogers,
local examples of plumage. An abbreviated version below. A and B were McKellar birds and C from Kellys. Danny expressed the view A was an adult male, B a first-year male, and C an adult female - not as dark-backed as ABG suggests. From what I can see
of the airport bird photo I think it is probably a juvenile. There is quite likely variation across the range, and with state of moult etc
From: Geoffrey Dabb <>
Sent: Wednesday, 2 January 2019 9:09 AM
Subject: FW: [canberrabirds] Little Bittern
Alan is a treasure. So far as I know, no female (red-brown back) has been reported this time. Is only a black-backed bird being seen? Photo below for comparison from Nov 2012, when only a brown-backed
bird was recorded. Shorty’s intervening obs were of a male, as I recall. Please correct me.
From: Martin Butterfield <>
Sent: Wednesday, 2 January 2019 8:42 AM
To: shorty <>
Cc: COG Chat <>
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Little Bittern
Carrying food is a breeding code!
On Wed, 2 Jan 2019 at 08:40, shorty <> wrote:
I got to see the Bittern this morning with thanks to Alan (last name?) coming up to Cygnas Hide to alert us. On the way back to Bittern Hide Alan commented that the Bittern was coming out to the edge of the reeds, grabing some unknown prey
and returning into the reeds with the prey and returning back out to the edge shortly after to get more prey. We also noted this several times while watching it.
Possable nest or young inside the reeds?