Black Bittern

Did you know?

Black Bitterns are seen in daylight more often than other bitterns.

Loud repeated cooing.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
Minimum Size: 
Maximum Size: 
Average size: 
Average weight: 
Breeding season: 
September to April
Clutch Size: 
Up to 5, usually 3
Conservation Status
Associated Plants
Plants associated with this species
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
Atlas Number: 
What does it look like?

The Black Bittern is a sooty black or dark brown bittern with a yellow patch on the sides of the neck, extending from the throat to the wing. The feathers on the crown and lower neck are almost plumes. The legs are dark. The Black Bittern is sometimes called the Yellow-necked Bittern.

Similar species: 

Like Black Bitterns, Striated HeronsButorides striatus, are found in mangroves, but Striated Herons are smaller (up to 49 cm) and are lighter grey with a black cap.

Where does it live?

Black Bitterns are found in coastal south-western, northern and eastern Australia south to far eastern Victoria.


Black Bitterns roost and nest in trees, and are found in tree-lined wetlands and in mangroves. They forage in both daylight and darkness, mainly from shady trees over water, but may be seen during the day in open areas of short marshy vegetation and along creeks in shrubby vegetation.

Seasonal movements: 

Black Bitterns are sedentary throughout the year.

What does it do?

Black Bitterns feed on a wide range of small animals, but mainly fish and amphibians. They stalk prey slowly or stand and wait for prey to emerge, but may sometimes plunge at it from a perch, before stabbing it with their sharp bills.


Black Bitterns nest in trees over water. The nest is a loose platform with a shallow depression in the centre.

Living with us

Loss of wetlands by draining reduces the range of habitats available to the Black Bittern.

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