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Bittern - Wikipedia

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Bitterns are birds belonging to the subfamily Botaurinae of the heron family Ardeidae. Bitterns tend to be shorter-necked and more secretive than other members of the family. They were called hæferblæte in Old English; the word "bittern" came to English from Old French butor, itself from Gallo-Roman butitaurus, a compound of Latin būtiō and taurus.[1]

Bitterns usually frequent reed beds and similar marshy areas and feed on amphibians, reptiles, insects, and fish.

Unlike the similar storks, ibises, and spoonbills; herons, egrets, pelicans, and bitterns fly with their necks retracted, not outstretched.


There are currently 14 species divided into three genera within Botaurinae:

Ixobrychus contains mainly smaller bitterns:

Botaurus contains the larger bitterns:

Zebrilus includes only one species:


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Botaurinae.
  1. ^ Joseph P. Pickett; et al., eds. (2000). "Bittern". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Archived from the original on 2005-01-16. Retrieved 2006-07-04.