Bittern facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Bitterns
American bittern
doing its best to look invisible
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
Subfamily: Botaurinae
Great Bittern at Minsmere by flickr user putneymark
Eurasian bittern

Bitterns are waterbirds, living mostly in freshwater sites. They are a type of heron, wading birds in the family Ardeidae. They are shorter-necked, and more secretive than other herons. Most of them have good camouflage amongst the reeds where they make their nests.

Bitterns form a monophyletic subfamily of the herons, the Botaurinae.

Bitterns usually frequent reedbeds and similar marshy areas, and feed on amphibians, reptiles, insects, and fish. Unlike the similar storks, ibises, and spoonbills, herons and bitterns fly with their necks retracted, not outstretched.

They were called hæferblæte in Old English; the word "bittern" came to English from Old French.

Bitterns are in three genera. The genus Ixobrychus contains mainly small species. The genus Botaurus has the larger bitterns. There is a single species in a third genus, Zebrilus. The distribution of bitterns is pretty much worldwide.


Bittern Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.