Conservation status: Red
A thickset heron with all-over bright, pale, buffy-brown plumage covered with dark streaks and bars. It flies on broad, rounded, bowed wings. A secretive bird, very difficult to see, as it moves silently through reeds at water's edge, looking for fish. The males make a remarkable far-carrying, booming sound in spring. Its dependence on reedbeds and very small population make it a Red List species - one of the most threatened in the UK.
Bittern in flight
Bitterns and herons (Ardeidae)
Where to see them
Wetlands with large reedbeds, especially RSPB reserves at Minsmere (Suffolk) and Leighton Moss (Lancashire).
When to see them
All year round. Most visible in winter at certain sites.
What they eat
Fish, amphibians and insects.
|Europe||UK breeding*||UK wintering*||UK passage*|
|34-54,000 males||80 males||600 birds||-|