Bittern: Little Bittern
Classified as a species of “least concern” the little bittern is widespread. Population levels have fallen throughout Europe but it is once again breeding in the Norfolk Broads and the Somerset levels in the UK.
Insects (terrestrial and aquatic), spiders, worms, crustaceans, small vertebrates (frogs, lizards, fish & voles etc.).
Dense reed beds and other vegetation around or near freshwater throughout the “Old World” (Europe, Africa, Asia & Australia).
This is a tiny heron that “skulks” in dense foliage and is mainly active at dawn or dusk (crepuscular).
A camouflaged nest made from surrounding vegetation over and very close to water (usually in reeds). A clutch of 2 – 9 eggs (sometimes clutching 2 or 3 times in the summer) hatching after 16-21 days and becoming fully fledged at day 27 although they have often left the nest by as early as day 7!
Usually heard more often than seen as the male makes a distinctive bark or booming call for territory marking.
All the little bitterns in Europe migrate southwards to Africa to over winter!
When potential prey is spotted the neck is extended and struck at with the beak.
At The Zoo
Our pair are the only birds of this species on exhibit in the UK. Born in 2014 they have had their juvenile brown and striped plumage until the Spring of 2015 when the black glossy cap and greenish back appear.
You will find their enclosure at the zoo but the actual birds are very-very difficult to see!