Bitterns are shy, secretive and more likely to be heard than seen. With their subtle brown plumage, this plump heron-like bird blends almost perfectly into its reed bed habitat. Even when frightened, the bittern stands perfectly still pointing its neck and bill skywards, to look just like a reed stalk. It is the male’s remarkably loud and booming mating call, which can be heard over two kilometres away, that announces their presence. Though found in Europe, North Africa and central Asia, there is only a handful of breeding pairs in Britain that have re-colonised after becoming extinct late in the 19th century.

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The following habitats are found across the Bittern distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


Discover what these behaviours
are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX
    – Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR
    – Threatened
  4. EN
    – Threatened
  5. VU
    – Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC
    – Least concern

Year assessed: 2009

Classified by: IUCN


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