EURASIAN BITTERN – Botaurus stellaris


Eurasian bittern facts: The Eurasian bittern is a thick-necked, medium-sized, golden brown wading bird. It has black feathers on its head and a black “moustache.” These bitterns are between 25 and 31 inches (64 and 80 centimeters) long from beak to tail, and they weigh from 1.9 to 4.3 pounds (0.9 to 1.9 kilograms). The feathers on their backs are speckled, which helps them hide among the plants.

Geographic range: Eurasian bitterns live in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Eurasian bittern habitat: They breed among dense, close together, plants in shallow water. During the rest of the year, they spread out to other wet areas, including ponds, ditches, and rice fields.

What does eurasian bittern eat: Eurasian bitterns eat fish, frogs, insects, small mammals, small birds, and snakes. They hunt by walking slowly among the plants, lifting their feet high with every step.

Behavior and reproduction: When a Eurasian bittern spots a predator, it can “freeze” for hours, with its beak pointing upward and eyes pointing forward. It sways like a blade of grass, making it camouflaged (KAM-uh-flajd) among the plants. It defends its breeding and nesting area by making loud, booming noises and fighting on the ground and in the air. A male bittern may have as many as five mates within his territory. Each female usually lays four or five eggs and the young leave the nest two weeks after hatching. They can fly by the time they are fifty-five days old.

Eurasian bitterns and people: As a result of the bittern’s booming call, when it appears in folk tales and legends, it is usually wicked or it brings bad luck.

Conservation status: The Eurasian bittern used to be widespread and abundant, but now it is listed as Vulnerable, facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future, in many areas.