Somerset Wildlife Trust

Work For Us|

Common Bittern

Common Bittern

Scientific name: Botaurus stellaris

This bittern is usually well-hidden in Phragmites reedbeds. Usually solitary, it walks stealthily seeking amphibians and fish. If it senses that it has been seen, it becomes motionless, with its bill pointed upward, causing it to blend into the reeds. It is most active at dawn and dusk. Its folk names include "barrel-maker", "bog-bull", "bog hen", "bog-trotter", and "butterbump", mire drum, mostly refer to the mating call of the male, which is a deep fog-horn or bull-like boom, easily audible from a distance of 2 miles on a calm night. The Latin for bittern, Botaurus, also refers to the bull. The other part of its scientific name, stellaris is the Latin for starry, in reference to its plumage. Surveys of Eurasian Bitterns are carried out by noting the number of distinct male booms in a given area.

Information courtesy of

Photograph courtesy of Brian Phipps