Australasian Bittern

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Common Name: Australasian Bittern
Scientific Name: Botaurus poiciloptilus

Size: 27 inches (71 cm)

Habitat: Asia and Australia; occurs in the wetlands of southern Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia. Found in freshwater swamps and marshes.

Status: Endangered. Global population: 1,000-2,499. In Australia and New Zealand, the main threats are wetland drainage for agriculture, as well as changes brought about by high levels of grazing and salinisation of swamps. In Australia, the species appears able to adapt to the availability of ephemeral wetlands, but is likely to be particularly sensitive to the destruction of drought refugia. Loss of these habitats may explain its dramatic decline in Western and South Australia. The Murray-Darling basin, a former stronghold of the species, has suffered consecutive droughts in recent years and over-extraction of water is an ongoing problem. Shooting and flying into power lines are additional contributory causes, but hunting pressure is very low. In Australia, Bool Lagoon and Lake Muir are managed specifically for the species.

Diet: Frogs, eels and freshwater crustaceans.

Nesting: It is a solitary nester on the ground in dense wetland vegetation on trampled reeds and other plants.

Cool Facts: It is a cryptic and partly nocturnal species that inhabits densely vegetated wetlands. It has a distinctive booming voice and may be heard more often than seen.

Found in Songbird ReMix Shorebirds Volume II: Herons and Bitterns and Songbird ReMix Australia Volume III

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