Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

Dwarf Bittern (Ixobrychus sturmii)


French: Blongios de Sturm German: Graurückendommel Spanish: Avetorillo plomizo

Ardea Sturmii


, 1827,



Sometimes separated in monospecific genus Ardeirallus. Monotypic.


Sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Ethiopia and S (avoiding arid zones) to South Africa.

Descriptive notes

25–30 cm; 142 g (one immature male); wingspan 50 cm. Distinguished from Butorides striata by smaller size, slower flight, pale and heavily streaked underparts... read more


In advertisement gives a “hoo, hoo, hoo” and a loud croak when disturbed.


Wooded areas or bush with dense foliage along margins of freshwater rivers, streams, lakes and... read more

Food and feeding

Insects, including water beetles and especially grasshoppers, and frogs; also small fish, crabs, spiders and snails, with local... read more


Season very variable, generally coinciding with rains, but sometimes early in dry season: Sept in Senegal; Aug–Oct in Mali; Jul in... read more


African migrant, movements related with changes in water level due to seasonal rains. Equatorial... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread, but uncommon to rare throughout extensive range. Locally common during breeding, e.g. in NE Namibia, S Angola. In Malawi... read more

Recommended citation

Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Dwarf Bittern (Ixobrychus sturmii). 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 28 February 2020).