The endangered bittern- a secretive bird more likely to be heard for its booming calls than be seen - has had a marvelous year from a conservation standpoint, and is returning in high numbers to England and Wales. Indeed, bitterns are so secretive-- and their call so distinctive-- that they are counted by listening for the males calling!
Not much has been done on the cognition and behaviour of this secretive species, but it is known that it can find a predator's head by the structural relationship between "head" and "body." This conclusion was reached by a researcher who approached a bittern (which attacked his head), and then approached again with shoulders hunched and jacket covering his head while holding a fake head in the position of his head. The bittern attacked the fake head. You just can't make this stuff up.
Many thanks to Elliott Bannan for sending along this marvelous conservation success story!
One of the UK's most threatened birds - the bittern - is returning to England and Wales, according to conservationists. More bitterns have been recorded than at any time since the early 19th Century, says the RSPB. Bitterns are counted by listening for the far-carrying, booming call of the male bird. So far this year more than 150 have been recorded in England and Wales. Last year, 140 booming males were counted at 61 sites. According to the RSPB, it has already been an exceptional year for the bittern, offering hope that conservation efforts to restore lost habitats can help other species.