Scientific name Botaurinae
|Similar Heron, Little bittern, Ixobrychus, Grebe, Plover|
Bittern booming at rspb minsmere
Bitterns are a classification of birds in the heron family of Pelican order of wading birds. Species named bitterns tend to be the shorter-necked, often more secretive members of this 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. Bitterns form a monophyletic subfamily in the heron family, the Botaurinae.
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.
The genus Ixobrychus contains mainly small species:
The genus Botaurus is the larger bitterns:
The genus Zebrilus includes only one species: