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Pinnated Bittern - BirdForum Opus

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Photo by arthurgrosset
Location: Cassino, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Alternative name: South American Bittern

Botaurus pinnatus


Photo by paul47
Location: Manabi, Ecuador, July 2009

63.5 and 76 cm (25-30 in) with a weight of roughly 800g (1.76 pounds). Females tend to be smaller than males.

Buffy white throat, foreneck white broadly streaked with pale brown, rest of the neck is buff with thin black barring. White breast and belly with broad pale brown streaks, buff back, heavily streaked and barred with black. Yellow bill. The bare facial skin is bright yellow, with a brown line running across the lores. The legs are greenish-yellow, and the iris is yellow.

Similar Species

The smaller American Bittern overlaps in south east Mexico in winter; it lacks the barring on the neck instead showing large spots forming streaks, and a strong black stripe from the base of the bill down the neck.


A population in the Caribbean slope of Mexico is separate from a second population from southern Nicaragua in Central America to South America where found mostly east of the Andes to north-central Argentina.


German naturalist Johann Georg Wagler, who first described the South American Bittern in 1829, placed it in the genus Ardea. It is sometimes included in a superspecies with American Bittern, and these two species are sometimes further included in a superspecies with Eurasian Bittern. There are currently two recognized subspecies, which are separated by a gap in Central America.


Two subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • B.p. caribaeus in Mexico
  • B.p. pinnatus in rest of range


Swamps, paddyfields and cane plantations.


Largely nocturnal.


Their diet consists mostly of fish, frogs, snakes and insects.


They build a platform or shallow cup nest of rush stems or other plant material, among thick vegetation not far above the water surface. Their clutch constains 2-3 olive-brown eggs which are incubated by the female.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2022. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2022. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Howell & Webb, 1995. A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198540124

Recommended Citation

External Links

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