Re: birding-aus Little versus Yellow Bittern

Subject: Re: birding-aus Little versus Yellow Bittern
From: David James <>
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 13:34:50 +1000
Max et al.,

It has become increasingly apparent over the last decade or two that
identifying difficult groups of birds requires that the birds are
accurately aged. According to Dany Rogers (in HANZAB), Little bittern has
only three recognizable plumages: adult male, adult female and juvenile.
These can be separated on the basis of the colour of the upperparts and
folded wings (wing-coverts), which respectively are:  black back with
yellow wing; brown streaky back with yellow wing; brown scaly back and
wing. Also juveniles have a lots of brown(ish) streaks on the underparts
apart from the dark foreneck stripe.

>From the sounds of your description ("I did not see any dark feathering on
the mid stripe down the chest and the other stripes down the chest were
very pale yellow-brown") you were infact looking at a juvenile bittern,
indeed a faded juvenile bittern. The bad knews is that to identify a faded
juvenile Yellow Bittern you would need a pretty tight description of the
bird (details of bill-size, malar, stripe, throat stripe, neck-streaking,
colour of flight feathers, to start with) and probably some comparative
information on juvenile Littles (I mean, if all the adults are Little and
all the juveniles are Yellow, well there's a problem). 

It sounds worthy of pursuit (more from the angle of sussing juvenile
bitterns than clinching a yellow). Keep them there and I'll try to get up
in a couple weeks!

At 08:03 31/03/99 +1000,  wrote:

>>A week ago whilst a number of us went with Lloyd Nielsen in search of
>Buff-breasted Button-Quail at Wondecla, I happened to enquire as to the
>difference between Little and Yellow Bitterns. 
David James
PO BOX 5225
Townsville Mail Centre,
Qld 4810, Australia

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