Australasian bittern

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Australasian bittern
By J. G. Keulemans in Buller's A History of the Birds of New Zealand
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
Genus: Botaurus
Species: B. poiciloptilus
Binomial name
Botaurus poiciloptilus
(Wagler, 1827)
Australasian Bittern Range.png
Global range     Year-Round Range     Summer Range     Winter Range

The Australasian bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus), also known as the brown bittern or matuku hūrepo, is a large bird in the heron family Ardeidae. A secretive bird with a distinctive booming call, it is more often heard than seen. Australasian bitterns are endangered in both Australia and New Zealand.


It is a large bittern, patterned and streaked brown, buff and black, with a pale throat.


It feeds on aquatic animals such as frogs, eels and freshwater crustaceans. It is a solitary nester on the ground in dense wetland vegetation on trampled reeds and other plants.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

It is found in south-western and south-eastern Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Ouvea. Populations in Australia and New Zealand have declined in the 20th century. It is a cryptic and partly nocturnal species that inhabits densely vegetated wetlands.

Status and conservation[edit]

The principal cause of past and ongoing decline is thought to be wetland drainage and degradation. In Australia it is thought to be particularly sensitive to the destruction of drought refugia. It is listed as endangered on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. It is listed as threatened on the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act of 1988.[2] Under this act, an Action Statement for the recovery and future management of this species has not been prepared.[3] On the 2007 advisory list of threatened vertebrate fauna in Victoria, this species is listed as endangered.[4]

Important bird areas[edit]

BirdLife International has identified the following sites, all of which are in Australia, as being important for Australasian bittern conservation:[5]



  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Botaurus poiciloptilus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria Archived 2008-10-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria Archived 2008-10-15 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (2007). Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria - 2007. East Melbourne, Victoria: Department of Sustainability and Environment. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-74208-039-0. 
  5. ^ "Australasian Bittern". Important Bird Areas. BirdLife International. 2012. Archived from the original on 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2012-10-29. 

External links[edit]