Freshwater lakes and marshes with heavy tall, emergent vegetation. Primarily large freshwater and (less often) brackish marshes, including lake and pond edges where cattails, sedges, or bulrushes are plentiful and marshes where there are patches of open water and aquatic-bed vegetation. Use sparsely vegetated wetlands occasionally and tidal marshes rarely. Wetlands of 2.5 ha or more may support nesting (Gibbs and Melvin 1992).
Auxiliary habitat: smaller wetlands may serve as alternate foraging sites (Gibbs and Melvin 1992). May nest in uplands if not modified by agriculture.
Gibbs, J. P., and S. M. Melvin. 1992. American bittern, BOTAURUS LENTIGINOSUS. Pages 51-69 in K. J. Schneider and D. M. Pence, editors. Migratory nongame birds of management concern in the Northeast. USFWS, Newton Corner, Massachusetts. 400 pp.