Eurasian bittern

Eurasian bittern
Bittern - Botaurus stellaris.jpg
Scientific classification edit
B. stellaris
Binomial name
Botaurus stellaris
  • B. s. stellaris Linnaeus, 1758[2]
  • B. s. capensis (Schlegel, 1863)[3]
Botaurus stellaris map.svg
Range of Botaurus stellaris:     breeding     year-round     nonbreeding

Ardea stellaris Linnaeus, 1758

The Eurasian bittern or great bittern (Botaurus stellaris) is a wading bird in the bittern subfamily (Botaurinae) of the heron family Ardeidae. There are two subspecies, the northern race (B. s. stellaris) breeding in parts of Europe and Asia, as well as on the northern coast of Africa, while the southern race (B. s. capensis) is endemic to parts of southern Africa. It is a secretive bird, seldom seen in the open as it prefers to skulk in reed beds and thick vegetation near water bodies. Its presence is apparent in the spring, when the booming call of the male during the breeding season can be heard. It feeds on fish, small mammals, fledgling birds, amphibians, crustaceans and insects.

The nest is usually built among reeds at the edge of bodies of water. The female incubates the clutch of eggs and feeds the young chicks, which leave the nest when about two weeks old. She continues to care for them until they are fully fledged some six weeks later.

With its specific habitat requirements and the general reduction in wetlands across its range, the population is thought to be in decline globally. However the decline is slow, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its overall conservation status as being of "least concern". Nevertheless, some local populations are at risk and the population of the southern race has declined more dramatically and is cause for concern. In the United Kingdom it is one of the most threatened of all bird species.[4]

Taxonomy and etymology

This species was first described as Ardea stellaris botaurus as early as the 1660's by the ornithologist Thomas Browne [5] and as Ardea stellaris by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae of 1758. It is placed in the subfamily Botaurinae, and its closest relatives are the American bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus), the pinnated bittern (Botaurus pinnatus) and the Australasian bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus).[6] Two races of Eurasian bittern are recognised; the nominate subspecies B. s. stellaris has a palearctic distribution and occurs across a broad swathe of Europe, North Africa and Asia, while the other subspecies, B. s. capensis, occurs only in southern Africa.[7] The name capensis was used for species found in the Afrotropics for which no exact range was known.[8]

The generic name Botaurus was given by the English naturalist James Francis Stephens, and is derived from Medieval Latin butaurus, "bittern", itself constructed from the Middle English name for the bird, botor.[9] Pliny gave a fanciful derivation from Bos (ox) and taurus (bull), because the bittern's call resembles the bellowing of a bull.[10] The species name stellaris is Latin for "starred", from stella, "star", and refers to the speckled plumage.[9]

Its folk names, often local, include many variations on the themes of "barrel-maker", "bog-bull", "bog hen", "bog-trotter", "bog-bumper", "mire drum[ble]", "butter bump", "bitter bum",[11] "bog blutter", "bog drum", "boom bird", "bottle-bump", "bull of the bog", "bull of the mire", "bumpy cors", and "heather blutter".[12] Most of these were onomatopoeic colloquial names for the bird; the call was described as "bumping"[13] or "booming". Mire and bog denote the bird's habitat.[14]

Other Languages
Адыгэбзэ: БгъэкӀэхь
Afrikaans: Grootrietreier
العربية: واق أوراسي
azərbaycanca: Böyük danquşu
башҡортса: Мөншөгөр
беларуская: Вялікі бугай
भोजपुरी: बाज बकुला
български: Голям воден бик
brezhoneg: Bongorz bras
català: Bitó comú
Чӑвашла: Пысăк чăмăш
čeština: Bukač velký
Cymraeg: Aderyn y bwn
dansk: Rørdrum
Deutsch: Rohrdommel
eesti: Hüüp
Ελληνικά: Ήταυρος
Esperanto: Granda botaŭro
føroyskt: Mækjuglámur
français: Butor étoilé
Frysk: Reiddomp
հայերեն: Մեծ ջրցուլ
interlingua: Botauro stellate
íslenska: Sefþvari
kaszëbsczi: Zwëczajnô paczla
кырык мары: Вӹдӱшкӱж
latviešu: Lielais dumpis
lietuvių: Didysis baublys
Livvinkarjala: Kaglushaigari
magyar: Bölömbika
македонски: Голем воден бик
Bahasa Melayu: Burung Puchong Danau
Nederlands: Roerdomp
Nordfriisk: Raidtromp
norsk: Rørdrum
پنجابی: وڈا بٹرن
Piemontèis: Botaurus stellaris
português: Botaurus stellaris
română: Buhai de baltă
русиньскый: Вып
русский: Большая выпь
саха тыла: Аҥыр
Scots: Bluiter
slovenčina: Bučiak veľký
српски / srpski: Bukavac
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Bukavac nebogled
svenska: Rördrom
удмурт: Иньтака
українська: Бугай (птах)
Tiếng Việt: Vạc rạ
粵語: 大麻鷺
中文: 大麻鳽