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Pelecaniformes > Ardeidae

Great Bittern

Botaurus stellaris

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Identification

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Stocky, brown heron found in extensive reedbeds; typically very secretive. Seen mainly as single birds in flight, especially early and late in the day. Stealthy and easily overlooked; cryptic plumage blends well with reeds. Note tawny-brown face and neck, blackish cap, streaked upperparts. Bizarre "booming" song often reveals presence. Compare to juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron, which has pale-spotted upperparts and is often seen in trees (bitterns usually on or near the ground).

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