These are solitary, secretive marsh birds that often remain undetected. The species has been Blue-listed in British Columbia, indicating that it is a Threatened species.
Their brown streaked body camouflages with dead vegetation very well, making them very difficult to spot. When alarmed, the bittern will stand with its head pointing into the air. Its call is a gulping sound (OOOONK-aloonk) and it is made by inflating the throat and bobbing up and down, an impressive sight.