Cinnamon Bittern (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus)

Cinnamon Bittern

[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Ardeidae | [latin] Ixobrychus cinnamomeus | [authority] Gmelin, 1789 | [UK] Cinnamon Bittern | [FR] Blongios cannelle | [DE] Zimtdommel | [ES] Avetorillo Canelo | [NL] Rossig Woudaapje


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Ixobrychus cinnamomeus OR widespread, also e Asia


Ixobrychus is a genus of bitterns, a group of wading bird in the heron family Ardeidae. It has a single representative species in each of North America, South America, Eurasia and Australasia. The tropical species are largely resident, but the two northern species are partially migratory, with many birds moving south to warmer areas in winter. The Ixobrychus bitterns are all small species, their four larger relatives being in the genus Botaurus. They breed in large reedbeds, and can often be difficult to observe except for occasional flight views due to their secretive behaviour.

Physical charateristics

The Cinnamon Bittern is a small (41 cm) heron colored a uniform rich cinnamon above, whitish buff below, with a central stripe of dark streaks down the throat and breast and dark streaks on the flanks. The female is duller and browner. The bill is mostly yellow and the legs and feet are green. The iris is yellow, and the pupil appears bar-shaped rather than round as in the Yellow Bittern, a useful field mark when the wings (black in Yellow Bittern) are not visible.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 40 cm size max.: 41 cm
incubation min.: 21 days incubation max.: 25 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


Oriental Region : widespread, also East Asia. Throughout China to India, Southeast Asia to Philippines and Sulawesi.


The Cinnamon Bittern is a shy, solitary bird of grassy areas, paddy fields, freshwater swamps and reed marshes, often near human habitations.


Its nest is a platform of small sticks, reeds and sedges lined with grasses and dead leaves and placed on a flattened clump of reeds or in a low tree or bush, usually within a meter or so above water or mud. The female usually lays 3-5 eggs. The chicks are pinkish chestnut, and can climb about in reeds at 10 days of age. Cinnamon Bitterns nest on the ground in swampy places, or on a platform of bent-over stems and leaves about 50cm off the ground. The nest is a made out of short pieces of reeds, grass or other vegetation. 5-6 dull white eggs are laid and both parents incubate (23 days). Chicks are creamy white. Their nests are so hard to find that according to Malay folklore, if a man wears the nest on his head, he will become invisible.

Feeding habits

is most active around dawn and dusk, but also feeds in the day, taking fish, frogs, molluscs, insects and crustaceans.

Video Cinnamon Bittern


copyright: Philip Griffin


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Cinnamon Bittern status Least Concern


N populations spend non-breeding season in S of breeding range, apparently moving in connection with rainfall and high water levels of monsoon period; passes through Malay Peninsula in Sep-Nov and Feb-May. S populations (from Thailand to Philippines and Indonesia) sedentary, with influx of migrants from N in N winter. Birds of Pakistan and India also perform local movements and perhaps seasonal migrations in relation with water conditions. Recorded in Primorskiy Kray Territory, SE USSR.

Distribution map

Cinnamon Bittern distribution range map

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