Pinnated Bittern (Botaurus pinnatus)

Pinnated Bittern

[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Ardeidae | [latin] Botaurus pinnatus | [authority] Wagler, 1829 | [UK] Pinnated Bittern | [FR] Butor mirasol | [DE] Sudamerikanische Rohrdommel | [ES] Avetoro Mirasol | [NL] Zuidamerikaanse Roerdomp


Monotypic species


Botaurus 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, Central and South America, Eurasia and Australasia. The two northern species are partially migratory, with many birds moving south to warmer areas in winter. The four Botaurus bitterns are all large chunky, heavily streaked brown birds which breed in large reedbeds. They are secretive and well-camouflaged, and despite their size they can be difficult to observe except for occasional flight views.

Physical charateristics

Medium sized Bittern mainly tawny buff plumage with black-brown bars. Throat and upper part of abdomen white, breast and lower abdomen brown with broad light brown stripes. Bill and legs light green.

Listen to the sound of Pinnated Bittern

[audio: Bittern.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 63 cm size max.: 76 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  


Latin America : East Mexico to Northeast Argentina


Freshwater swamps overgronw with reed or bushes.


Little information available. Nest is a platform built of reed above water, 2-3 eggs are laid incubated by female only.

Feeding habits

Mainly fish, insects and invertebrates caught in water. Also small vertebrates like frogs and snakes.

Video Pinnated Bittern


copyright: D. Ascanio


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 is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds 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.
The habits of the Pinnated Bittern or South American Bittern are still failry unknown to science. Thespecies is not uncommon in Suriname but easily overlooked due to its secretive behavior and well disguishing plumage. In Suriname not uncommon but hardly any breeding information available.
Pinnated Bittern status Least Concern


Movements are little known. Appears fairly sedentary in Trinidad and Costa Rica, where recorded in off-season. In South of range, in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and North Argentina, no records about breeding season.

Distribution map

Pinnated Bittern distribution range map

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