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The Eurasian Bitterns breed on the Atlantic coast of Europe, in the Mediterranean and in South Africa are largely sedentary due to the relatively mild winters (although they may make local dispersive movements related to rainfall). Continental populations are mainly migratory however with a marked post-breeding dispersal of immatures. The species breeds from March to June in Eurasia and during the rains from September to January in South Africa.
The species avoids saline waters but is abundant in fresh or brackish habitats. They feed on fish, frogs, small mammals and insects.
Its folk names include "barrel-maker", "bog-bull", "bog hen", "bog-trotter", and "butterbump", mire drum, mostly refer to the mating call of the male, which is a deep fog-horn or bull-like boom, easily audible from a distance of 2 miles on a calm night.
If a bittern senses that it has been seen, it becomes motionless, with its bill pointed upward, causing it to blend into the reeds. It is most active at dawn and dusk.
Rendered in Vue 7.5i with no postwork. Models: Eurasian Bittern of Shorebirds Volume II(me)
- November 1, 2009
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