T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Australasian bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
Genus: Botaurus
Species: B. poiciloptilus
Binomial name: Botaurus poiciloptilus
Common names: Australasian bittern, Brown bittern, matuku hūrepo.

Botaurus poiciloptilus is a large bird in the heron family Ardeidae. It is a large bittern, patterned and streaked brown, buff and black, with a pale throat.It is a cryptic and partly nocturnal species that inhabits densely vegetated wetlands.  It is a secretive bird with a distinctive booming call; it is more often heard than seen. 
Botaurus poiciloptilus are found in south-western and south-eastern Australia, Tasmania, New Caledonia, Ouvea and New Zealand. This large bird is now rare with New Zealand;s population thought to be fewer than 900 individuals. They are found throughout New Zealand. In Taranaki they can be found in a few of the larger remaining wetland areas. 
It feeds on aquatic animals such as frogs, eels and freshwater crustaceans. It is a solitary nester on the ground in dense wetland vegetation on trampled reeds and other plants (see photo below).

Botaurus poiciloptilus populations in Australia and New Zealand have declined in the 20th century.are endangered in both Australia and New Zealand. One of the main threats to Australasian bittern is habitat clearance and drainage with wetlands still continuing to degrade. Other treats are predation by introduced mammals such as stoats, weasels, ferrets cats, rats and dogs.

 Listen to the distinctive booming call of Botaurus poiciloptilus.



Botaurus poiciloptilus nesting.
 


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