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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.

Illustrations

Overview

Latin name

Botaurus stellaris

Family

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.

Population

EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
34-54,000 males80 males600 birds-

Distribution

Key

In the UK
Southern England, mainly East Anglia and Lancashire.
In Europe
Most of Europe, except for the far north.
Worldwide
Europe, Africa and Asia

Audio

Niels Krabbe, Xeno-canto