The recent severe weather has been tough for Bitterns, with many being seen around the remaining areas of unfrozen water, frequently in unusual situations. Bitterns traditionally suffer in such cold winters. At least 17 sites attempted to feed their Bitterns, usually with Sprats or Sardines, during the coldest spell of weather and 8 sites report that Bitterns were seen taking the fish. See Steve Blain's video of a Bittern eating sprats (or below) provided by local birders at Stewartby Lake. At Leighton Moss, three Bitterns came to the feeding site regularly (about once every half hour), took some fish and then returned regularly during the day. At most of the other sites, Bitterns were seen in the vicinity of the food and may well have taken it. So it would appear that feeding in hard weather may help some Bitterns survive. We feed Blue Tits, so why not a bird that is a conservation priority in the UK?
On the other hand, is this just another example of unnecessary human tinkering? Will it make any difference at all to the population in the coming spring, or will it even hinder a natural dispersal of young birds to new sites? What do you think?
Edit - In a rather low poll, 16 out of 16 respondents thought we should be feeding Bitterns.