065 (Eurasian) Bittern
(Botaurus stellaris)


69-81cm. The Eurasian Bittern is a large buff-brown heron. Slightly smaller than Grey Heron, but its shape much more compact and stocky, with thicker neck (usually hunched into shoulders), loose throat feathering, and shorter legs. Rarely seen on ground (stays hidden in reedbed), and presence mostly revealed by distinctive voice. When alarmed in reedbed, adopts camouflage posture with bill pointing up (bitterning posture).


In Hungary the Eurasian Bittern is typical breeder with stable population on extensive continuous marshlands, reed-beds, alkali marshy meadows and canal banks with wide reed skirting. The majority of the Hungarian population breeds on the Great Plain. Migrant. Occurs in Hungary between late February and the second half of November, but depending on the weather, regularly overwinters in small numbers along partially unfrozen ponds and canals.

065 (Eurasian) Bittern pic

© Graphics by Szabolcs Kókay

Source: 1) Lovászi Péter (editor): Javasolt különleges madárvédelmi területek Magyarországon, Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2002; 2) BirdLife International:IUCN Red List for birds. Species factsheet; 3) Králl Attila, Nagy Károly: Fontos Madárélőhelyek Magyarországon (Területek, kritériumok és minősítő fajok) MME Monitoring Központ, 2007; 4) Szabolcs Kókay bird illustrations; 5) www.hungarianbirdwatching.com bird descriptions and checklists, 2004-2012; 6) Lars Svensson et al.: Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe 2nd Edition, Harper Collins, 2010; 7) MME Nomenclator Bizottság: Nomenclator avium Hungariae. An annotated list of the birds of Hungary. Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2008