Eurasian bittern

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The Eurasian bittern (Botaurus stellaris) is a wading bird belonging to the family Ardeidae. The Eurasian bittern species is distributed in Indian Subcontinent, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Taxonomy of Eurasian bittern

  • Scientific Name: Botaurus stellaris
  • Common Name: Eurasian bittern
  • French: Butor étoilé; German: Rohrdommel; Spanish: Avetoro común;
  • Other names: Ardea stellaris Linnaeus, 1758; Great bittern;
  • Family: Ardeidae › Pelecaniformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Botaurus stellaris species was previously included in the genus Ardea. The recognized two subspecies are: B. s. stellaris (Linnaeus, 1758) and B. s. capensis (Schlegel, 1863).

Indian birds - Eurasian bittern - Botaurus stellaris
Indian birds - Eurasian bittern - Botaurus stellaris


The Eurasian bittern species are large birds, the male being larger than the female. The male measures 65 to 80 cm in length and weighs 750 to 2,050 grams. The female bittern weighs 650 to 1,150 grams. The wingspan is 125 to 135 cm. These bittern species have bright, pale, buffy-brown plumage covered with dark streaks and bars.


The Eurasian bittern species prefer water bodies with thick fringe vegetation, specially reed beds. They inhabit marshes, ponds, lakes, streams, estuaries, delta marshes, rice fields and flooded grasslands.

Feeding habits

These bittern species is active in the morning and dusk, feeding on insects, frogs, fish, crustaceans, molluscs, snakes, lizards, birds, nestlings and small mammals.


The Eurasian bittern species breeding season is from March to July and the males are polygamous. The nests are built on reed beds. The nest may contain four to five eggs.


The subspecies B. s. stellaris breeds in Sweden, England, Spain, Central Europe, North Africa, Middle East, Central Asia, Russia, China and Japan. It winters in Southern Europe, Mediterranean region, South and Southeast Asia, Indian Subcontinent and sub-Saharan Africa. The subspecies B. s. capensis is distributed in Southern Africa.

Movement Patterns

The Eurasian bittern species are partially migratory. The regions where the weather is very cold, the species migrate to warmer south. The birds in temperate regions and subtropical regions are largely sedentary.

Status and conservation

The global population of the Eurasian bittern species is estimated to be 110,000 to 340,000 individual birds. These species have an extremely large range and are considered least vulnerable. The conservation of these species is threatened by loss of reed habitat, human activity near the breeding habitat, water sports and hunting.

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 Botaurus stellaris
Species:B. stellaris
Binomial name:Botaurus stellaris
Distribution:Indian Subcontinent, Europe, Africa and Asia;
Feeding habits:insects, frogs and fish;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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