Information about: Bittern

Index | Bittern

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Bittern. The name of several wading birds, family Ardeidae or herons, genus Botaurus. There are two British species, the common bittern, Botaurus stellaris, and the little bittern, Botaurus minutus, a native of the South, and only a summer visitor to Britain. Both, however, are becoming rare from the reclamation of the marshy grounds that form their favorite haunt. The American bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus, is about twenty-six inches in length, about forty five in expanse of wing; general color, yellowish­brown, with spots and bars of black or dark brown; feathers on the breast long and loose; tail short; bill about three inches long. It is remarkable for its curious booming or bellowing cry, from which come the provincial names of "stake-driver" and "thunder-pumper." The eggs, greenish-brown in color, are four or five in number. The little bittern, Ardetta exilis, is about a foot in length and more highly colored than its larger relative.