Eurasian Bittern | Botaurus stellaris

Robert's Birding Information: Eurasian Bittern

The Eurasian Bittern is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Ardeidae bird family group which includes birds such as Egrets, Herons & Bitterns.

The description for the Eurasian Bittern (Latin name Botaurus stellaris) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Botaurus stellaris can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 80 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 602. You will find a picture of the Eurasian Bittern on page 592.

The Eurasian (Great) Bittern is known as a "lifer" in the birding circles of South Africa.

Eurasian (Great) BitternThe photo on the left is a poor picture of a Eurasian Bittern, formerly known as the Great Bittern, taken in the Kruger Park, please click to enlarge.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

This bird is known as Bittern in the Roberts 6th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Eurasian Bittern between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition.

The Eurasian Bittern has a height of 64 cms and weighs around 1300 gms. The head is coloured brown while the bill is coloured grey. The Botaurus stellaris has a brown coloured throat, green legs and a black, brown coloured back. The eyes are yellow.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is brown.

Eyes are yellow.

Bill is grey.

Legs are green.

Throat is brown.

Back is black, brown.

Photo's & Differentiating Between Male, Female & Juveniles

Please click the images below to make them larger:

Male Adult  
Female Adult  
Non Breeding Plumage N/A

Eurasian Bittern Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground.

This bird has a specially adapted bill which helps it hunt for fish, crabs, shrimp and other aquatic animals in the water.

Eurasian Bittern Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Eurasian Bittern is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 2 to 4 eggs and they are coloured green.

The nest is built high up in the tree canopy and is protected from predators by branches and the dense green foliage.

The bird is mainly found in the Savanna grasslands where it breeds and feeds.

The Eurasian Bittern is found in the Southern African wetlands, riverine forests and moist grasslands.

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The Eurasian Bittern is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.