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Birds of the Bible – Bitterns II

I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts. (Isaiah 14:23 KJV)

Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus) by IanI introduced the Bittern in the first Birds of the Bible – Bittern and now I want to add some more information about them. The Bitterns belong to the Order called Pelecaniformes which includes Ibises, Spoonbills, Herons, Bitterns, Frigatebirds, Hamerkop, Shoebills, Pelicans, Gannets, Boobies, Cormorants, Anhingas, and Darters. All of these birds like to hang out around watery places and are related. Within the Pelecaniformes order, there are different families. The Bittern is in the Ardeidae family. Below is a list of the Bitterns within this family.

Belonging to the Ardeidae family, they also have the usual long legs, long necks, and are wading birds. They are associated with water, especially in breeding season. Whereas the herons and egret stand out in the open, the bitterns like to conceal themselves in cattail and sedge marshes, bulrushes, etc. They also have shorter legs and a heavier body. Their “cryptic plumage and upright poses helps to merge with the brown upright reeds…” I’ve had the privilege to see a few of them, and they are hard to find. God has provided them with this protection and it helps them in finding their food. Fish is their favorite food, but they will also consume frogs, small snakes, and other things that pass by.
Australian Little Bittern (Ixobrychus dubius) by Ian
Here in North America, we only have the American and Least Bitterns. I sometimes confuse them with the smaller herons, like a Green Heron. You can tell they are in the same family (ardeidae).

Here is the sounds of an American Bittern and a Least Bittern from Stokes Bird Songs

American and Least Bittern’s Sound

But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness. (Isaiah 34:11)


CLASS – AVES, Order –PELECANIFORMES, Family – ArdeidaeHerons, Bitterns

Cinnamon Bittern by Phil Kwong in Hong KongStripe-backed Bittern – Ixobrychus involucris
Least Bittern – Ixobrychus exilis
Yellow Bittern – Ixobrychus sinensis
Little Bittern – Ixobrychus minutus
Schrenck’s Bittern – Ixobrychus eurhythmus
Cinnamon Bittern – Ixobrychus cinnamomeus
Dwarf Bittern – Ixobrychus sturmii
Black Bittern – Ixobrychus flavicollis
South American Bittern – Botaurus pinnatus
North American Bittern – Botaurus lentiginosus
Eurasian Bittern – Botaurus stellaris
Australasian Bittern – Botaurus poiciloptilus
Sunbittern – Eurypyga helias

“Recent DNA evidence suggests that this family may in fact belong to the Pelecaniformes.5, From Wikipedia They used to be in the Ciconiformes family, where most older guide books still have them. My list are from the IOC’s World Lists, 2.1 version.

Photos Top to Bottom
Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus) by Ian
Australian Little Bittern (Ixobrychus dubius) by Ian Montgomery
Cinnamon Bittern (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus) by Phil Kwong