Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

Eurasian Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)


French: Butor étoilé German: Rohrdommel Spanish: Avetoro común
Other common names: Great Bittern

Ardea stellaris


, 1758,



Closely related to B. poiciloptilus, and previously considered conspecific. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. s. stellaris (Linnaeus, 1758) – breeds from Sweden, England and Spain through Europe, N Africa, Middle East and C Asia E to Russian Far East, NE China and Japan; winters in C & S Europe, Mediterranean Basin E to S & SE Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • B. s. capensis (Schlegel, 1863) – S Africa from N Zambia to NE South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    64–80 cm; male 750–2060 g, female 650–1150 g; wingspan 125–135 cm. Vagrants of B. lentiginosus have reached range of present species, but... read more


    Male song (given from late winter, according to prevailing climatic conditions), used in... read more


    Highly restricted habitat requirements during breeding season: quiet, little-disturbed marshes... read more

    Food and feeding

    Very variable, depending on place and season: mainly fish of of wide variety of species, particularly cyprinids and eels (including ... read more


    In Eurasia laying Mar–Jul, occasionally earlier, with records from Jan in Spain, but in Italy apparently nests on average later in... read more


    Extensive post-breeding movements by juveniles, sometimes of hundreds of kilometres. Partial... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Previously considered Near Threatened. General decline, especially in Europe, since 19th century, due to habitat destruction,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Eurasian Bittern (Botaurus stellaris). 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 12 November 2019).