Black bittern

   ›      ›   Black bittern - Ixobrychus flavicollis.

The black bittern (Ixobrychus flavicollis) is a wading bird belonging to the family Ardeidae. These bittern species is distributed in Indian Subcontinent, China, Southeast Asia, Australia and Indonesia.

Taxonomy of Black bittern

  • Scientific Name: Ixobrychus flavicollis
  • Common Name: Black bittern
  • French: Blongios à cou jaune; German: Schwarzdommel; Spanish: Avetorillo negro;
  • Other names: Ardea flavicollis Latham, 1790; Dupetor flavicollis;
  • Family: Ardeidae › Pelecaniformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Latham, 1790)
Ixobrychus flavicollis species was previously included in the genus Ardea. The recognized three subspecies are: I. f. flavicollis (Latham, 1790), I. f. australis (Lesson, 1831) and I. f. woodfordi (Ogilvie-Grant, 1888).

Indian birds - Black bittern - Ixobrychus flavicollis
Indian birds - Black bittern - Ixobrychus flavicollis


The black bittern species measures, 55 to 65 cm in length and weighs 200 to 400 grams. The wingspan is 75 to 80 cm. They have longish neck among bitterns and the bill is long. The adult bittern is uniformly black on the back with yellow neck sides. The underside is whitish with brown streaks.


These bittern species prefer wetland habitats with dense fringe vegetations. They are found in reed beds along water bodies. They inhabit ponds, lakes, streams and marshes.

Feeding habits

These bittern species feed on insects, insect larvae, crustaceans, molluscs, fish, frogs, lizards and other small animals.


These bittern species in India and Pakistan breed in June to September during Southwest monsoon. Their breeding habitat is mostly reed beds. They construct nest platforms and three to five eggs are seen in the nest.


The subspecies I. f. flavicollis is distributed in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, China and Philippines. The subspecies I. f. australis is distributed in New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago and Australia. The subspecies I. f. woodfordi is found in Solomon Islands.

Movement Patterns

These bittern species are resident birds. Some local movements may occur, especially from north to south for water and rains.

Status and conservation

The global population of the black bittern species is estimated to number 63,000 to 320,000 individual birds. There is decline in population in some pockets. However the range is large. These species are considered least vulnerable. Habitat destruction, human activity in the habitat and destruction of reed habitats are the threat in conservation.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these bittern species species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Ixobrychus flavicollis
Species:I. flavicollis
Binomial name:Ixobrychus flavicollis
Distribution:Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, China, Philippines, Australia and Indonesia;
Feeding habits:insects, frogs and fish;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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