Family Herons (Ardeidae)


Australasian Bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus)


French: Butor d’Australie German: Australische Rohrdommel Spanish: Avetoro australiano

Ardea poiciloptila


, 1827,

New South Wales, Australia


Closely related to B. stellaris, and previously considered conspecific. Population of SW Australia has been held to merit consideration as a subspecies, westralensis, and birds from New Zealand have been separated as race maorensis, but neither considered sufficiently distinct to warrant such treatment. Monotypic.


SW & SE Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand; New Caledonia and Loyalty Is (Ouvéa).

Descriptive notes

66–76 cm; male 875–2085 g, female 571–1135 g; wingspan 105–118 cm. Stocky, thick-necked and medium-sized heron. Plumage variable, with paler and... read more


Vocalizations require more study: males give loud resonant “boom” calls during breeding season (... read more


Wetlands with tall, dense vegetation of reeds (Phragmites), sedges, rushes (Scirpus... read more

Food and feeding

Fish, especially eels trouts and Crassius, crayfish (Cherax), amphibians, crustaceans, snails, insects (weevils, crickets... read more


Mainly breeds Oct–Dec (Sept–Feb) in Australia; Aug–May (mostly Nov–Dec) in New Zealand, with eggs from late Aug to... read more


Apparently sedentary, with post-breeding dispersal; regular short-distance movements to coasts... read more

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. Population most recently estimated by BirdLife International at 1000–2499 mature individuals within overall range of 323,000 km2, of which 3–16... read more

Recommended citation

Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Australasian Bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 February 2020).