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Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern

Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type   Average mass -


  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 8,150,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 8,150,000 medium
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor Estimated 2009
Population trend Decreasing -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 5.5 - - -
Population justification: The global population is estimated to number c.110,000-340,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: c.100-10,000 breeding pairs, c.50-1,000 individuals on migration and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in China; < c.1,000 wintering individuals in Korea; < c.100 breeding pairs and < c.50 wintering individuals in Japan and < c.100,000 breeding pairs and < c.1,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).
Trend justification: The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Afghanistan Native Extant   Yes  
Albania Native Extant     Yes
Algeria Native Extant      
Angola Native Extant      
Armenia Native Extant   Yes  
Austria Native Extant      
Azerbaijan Native Extant      
Bahrain Native Extant   Yes Yes
Bangladesh Native Extant      
Belarus Native Extant      
Belgium Native Extant     Yes
Bosnia and Herzegovina Native Extant Yes    
Botswana Native Extant      
Brunei Vagrant Extant      
Bulgaria Native Extant      
Cambodia Native Extant      
Cameroon Native Extant   Yes  
Central African Republic Native Extant      
China (mainland) Native Extant      
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Vagrant Extant      
Croatia Native Extant      
Cyprus Native Extant     Yes
Czech Republic Native Extant      
Denmark Native Extant      
Egypt Native Extant      
Eritrea Vagrant Extant      
Estonia Native Extant      
Ethiopia Vagrant Extant      
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) Vagrant Extant      
Finland Native Extant Yes   Yes
France Native Extant     Yes
Gambia Vagrant Extant      
Georgia Native Extant Yes   Yes
Germany Native Extant     Yes
Ghana Vagrant Extant      
Greece Native Extant     Yes
Hungary Native Extant      
Iceland Vagrant Extant      
India Native Extant      
Iran, Islamic Republic of Native Extant      
Iraq Native Extant   Yes  
Ireland Vagrant Extant   Yes  
Israel Native Extant   Yes  
Italy Native Extant      
Japan Native Extant      
Jordan Native Extant   Yes  
Kazakhstan Native Extant Yes    
Kuwait Native Extant   Yes Yes
Kyrgyzstan Native Extant Yes    
Laos Native Extant      
Latvia Native Extant      
Lebanon Native Extant   Yes Yes
Lesotho Vagrant Extant      
Libya Native Extant      
Liechtenstein Vagrant Extant      
Lithuania Native Extant      
Luxembourg Native Extant      
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Native Extant      
Malawi Native Extant      
Malaysia Native Extant      
Maldives Vagrant Extant      
Malta Native Extant      
Moldova Native Extant     Yes
Mongolia Native Extant Yes    
Montenegro Native Extant      
Morocco Native Extant      
Mozambique Native Extant      
Myanmar Native Extant      
Namibia Native Extant      
Nepal Native Extant      
Netherlands Native Extant      
Niger Native Extant   Yes  
Nigeria Native Extant      
North Korea Native Extant      
Norway Vagrant Extant      
Oman Native Extant   Yes Yes
Pakistan Native Extant      
Palestinian Authority Territories Native Extant   Yes  
Philippines Native Extant      
Poland Native Extant      
Portugal Native Extant      
Qatar Native Extant   Yes  
Romania Native Extant     Yes
Russia (Asian) Native Extant Yes    
Russia (Central Asian) Native Extant Yes    
Russia (European) Native Extant Yes    
Saudi Arabia Native Extant   Yes Yes
Senegal Vagrant Extant      
Serbia Native Extant      
Seychelles Vagrant Extant      
Slovakia Native Extant      
Slovenia Native Extant      
South Africa Native Extant      
South Korea Native Extant      
Spain Native Extant     Yes
Sri Lanka Native Extant      
Sudan Native Extant   Yes  
Swaziland Native Extant      
Sweden Native Extant      
Switzerland Native Extant   Yes  
Syria Native Extant   Yes Yes
Taiwan (China) Native Extant      
Tajikistan Native Extant Yes    
Tanzania Native Extant      
Thailand Native Extant      
Tunisia Native Extant      
Turkey Native Extant      
Turkmenistan Native Extinct Yes    
Uganda Native Extant      
Ukraine Native Extant     Yes
United Arab Emirates Native Extant   Yes Yes
United Kingdom Native Extant      
Uzbekistan Native Extant Yes    
Vietnam Native Extant      
Yemen Native Extant   Yes  
Zambia Native Extant Yes    
Zimbabwe Vagrant Extant      

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Austria Neusiedler See site factsheet
Austria Southern Seewinkel and Zitzmannsdorfer Wiesen site factsheet
Belarus Asvieja site factsheet
Belarus Bielaje fish farm site factsheet
Belarus Paliessie fish farm site factsheet
Belarus Sialiec site factsheet
Belarus Vyhanaščanskija baloty site factsheet
Belgium Bokrijk site factsheet
Belgium De Maten site factsheet
Belgium Hamonterheide, Hageven, Buitenheide, Mariahof en Stamprooierbroek site factsheet
Belgium Polderkomplex site factsheet
Bulgaria Adata-Tundzha site factsheet
Bulgaria Kalimok Complex site factsheet
Bulgaria Straldzha Complex site factsheet
Bulgaria Tsibarsko Marsh site factsheet
Czech Republic Poodri site factsheet
Denmark Eastern part of Vejlerne site factsheet
Denmark Maribo lakes site factsheet
Denmark Ringkøbing Fjord site factsheet
Denmark Western part of Vejlerne, Arup Holm and Hovsør Røn site factsheet
Estonia Mouth of the Emajõgi river and Piirissaar island site factsheet
Estonia Mullutu site factsheet
Estonia Väinameri site factsheet
Estonia Vooremaa site factsheet
Estonia Võrtsjärv site factsheet
Finland Hollola wetlands site factsheet
Finland Kirkkojärvi lake and Lupinlahti bay site factsheet
Finland Oulu region wetlands site factsheet
Finland Pori archipelago and wetlands site factsheet
Finland Siikalahti bay and Sammallampi lake site factsheet
France Brenne centrale site factsheet
France Camargue site factsheet
France Estuaire de la Loire site factsheet
France Estuaires picards : baies de Somme et d'Authie site factsheet
France Etang de Capestang site factsheet
France Etang de Lindre site factsheet
France Etangs d'Argonne site factsheet
France Etangs de la Woëvre: la Chaussée site factsheet
France Etangs de Sologne: St Viatre, Marcilly-en-Gault et forêt de Bruadan site factsheet
France Etangs de Vendres, Pissevache et Lespignan site factsheet
France Etangs et marais du bassin de la Somme site factsheet
France Etangs Montpellierains site factsheet
France Forêt de la Reine site factsheet
France Lac du Der-Chantecoq et étangs latéraux site factsheet
France Marais arrières littoraux picards site factsheet
France Marais de Brière site factsheet
France Marais de la Souche site factsheet
France Marais de Sacy site factsheet
France Marais entre Crau et Grand Rhône: Meyranne, Chanoine, Plan de Bourg et Salins du Caban site factsheet
France Petite Camargue fluvio-lacustre site factsheet
France Petite Camargue laguno-marine site factsheet
France Plaine du Forez site factsheet
Hungary Alkaline lakes of Kiskunság site factsheet
Hungary Bodrogzug–Taktaköz site factsheet
Hungary Hortobágy and Tisza-to site factsheet
Hungary Lake Fertő site factsheet
Hungary Lake Kis-Balaton site factsheet
Hungary Lower Tisza Valley site factsheet
Hungary Sárvíz Valley site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Arjan Protected Area site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Hamoun-i Sabari and Hamoun-i Hirmand site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Shadegan marshes and tidal mudflats of Khor-al Amaya and Khor Musa site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of South end of the Hamoun-i Puzak site factsheet
Iraq Haur Al Hammar site factsheet
Iraq Haur Al Hawizeh site factsheet
Iraq Hindiya barrage site factsheet
Iraq Huweija marshes site factsheet
Iraq Samara dam site factsheet
Israel Carmel coast site factsheet
Israel Northern Arava valley site factsheet
Latvia Engure lake site factsheet
Latvia Kemeri national park site factsheet
Latvia Liepaja lake site factsheet
Latvia Lubans and fish-ponds site factsheet
Latvia Pape site factsheet
Latvia Razna site factsheet
Latvia Seda marsh site factsheet
Lithuania Birzulius-Stervas marshes complex site factsheet
Lithuania Islauzas fish-ponds site factsheet
Lithuania Kauno Marios water reservoir & eastern coastal zone site factsheet
Lithuania Lake Druksiai site factsheet
Lithuania Metelys, Dusia & Obelija lakes site factsheet
Lithuania Nemunas delta regional Park site factsheet
Lithuania Pavezupis fish-ponds site factsheet
Lithuania Plinksiai state Nature Reserve and its environs site factsheet
Lithuania Tyruliai State Nature Reserve site factsheet
Lithuania Wetland complex of the Baltoji Voke fish-farm with neighbouring turbary and lake Papis site factsheet
Lithuania Zuvintas Biosphere Reserve site factsheet
Luxembourg Haff Réimech site factsheet
Netherlands Ameland: Duinen-Oerd site factsheet
Netherlands De Weerribben site factsheet
Netherlands Gelderse Poort site factsheet
Netherlands Ilperveld, Varkensland and Twiske site factsheet
Netherlands Oostvaardersplassen site factsheet
Oman Khawr ad Dahariz site factsheet
Oman Khawr Rouri site factsheet
Oman Salalah Bird Sanctuary site factsheet
Palestinian Authority Territories Ein Al-Fashkha site factsheet
Poland Barycz river valley site factsheet
Poland Biebrza river valley site factsheet
Poland Drawa River Site site factsheet
Poland Lower Odra river valley site factsheet
Poland Pisz forest site factsheet
Poland Tuchola Forest site factsheet
Poland Wloszczowa Basin site factsheet
Romania Balta Mică a Brăilei site factsheet
Romania Bistreţ site factsheet
Romania Blahniţa site factsheet
Romania Câmpia Nirului - Valea lerului site factsheet
Romania Comana site factsheet
Romania Danube Delta site factsheet
Romania Fizes valley site factsheet
Romania Gruia - Gârla Mare site factsheet
Romania Ostrovu Lung - Gostinu site factsheet
Romania Suhaia site factsheet
Russia (Central Asian) Kurtan Lake site factsheet
Russia (Central Asian) Man'yass lake site factsheet
Saudi Arabia Al-Hasa lagoons site factsheet
Serbia Carska bara site factsheet
Serbia Gornje Podunavlje site factsheet
Serbia Jegricka site factsheet
Serbia Srednje Potamišje site factsheet
Slovakia Medzibodrozie site factsheet
Slovakia Morava site factsheet
Slovakia Senné site factsheet
Slovakia Slovenský karst site factsheet
Spain Albufera de Mallorca and Albufereta de Pollença marshes site factsheet
Spain Ampurdán marshes site factsheet
Spain Cinco Villas ponds site factsheet
Spain Ebro delta site factsheet
Spain Pitillas and Dos Reinos lagoons site factsheet
Spain Rivers Cinca and Alcanadre riverine forest site factsheet
Sweden Bay of Kilsviken site factsheet
Sweden Dättern site factsheet
Sweden Lake Hornborgasjön site factsheet
Sweden Lake Vendelsjön site factsheet
Sweden Western part of lake Mälaren site factsheet
Syria Ras al-Ayn site factsheet
Turkey Balıkdamı site factsheet
Turkey Kızılırmak Delta site factsheet
Ukraine Bodakivs'ke marsh site factsheet
Ukraine Chervone marsh site factsheet
Ukraine Molochna river valley site factsheet
Ukraine Mzha river valley site factsheet
Ukraine Pryp'yat' river valley site factsheet
Ukraine Shats'ki lakes site factsheet
Ukraine Sosyns'kyj protected area site factsheet
Ukraine Stokhod river valley site factsheet
Ukraine Supij marsh site factsheet
Ukraine Udaj river valley site factsheet
United Kingdom Broadland site factsheet
United Kingdom Humber Estuary site factsheet
United Kingdom Lea Valley site factsheet
United Kingdom Leighton Moss site factsheet
United Kingdom Marazion Marsh site factsheet
United Kingdom Minsmere - Walberswick site factsheet
United Kingdom North Norfolk Coast site factsheet
United Kingdom Stodmarsh site factsheet
United Kingdom Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits site factsheet
Yemen Ta'izz wadis site factsheet
Zambia Bangweulu Swamps site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Terrestrial Arable Land suitable breeding
Artificial/Terrestrial Arable Land suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands major breeding
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands major non-breeding
Altitude 0 - 1400 m Occasional altitudinal limits  


Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food (human) Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Food (human) Whole Eggs Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent
Sport Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Botaurus stellaris. Downloaded from on 21/04/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/04/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Ardeidae (Herons and egrets)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1758)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 8,150,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species
- Climate change species distributions