Australasian Bittern

The Australasian Bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus) are heavy set and stocky birds around 70cm tall with a Heron like appearance. Their plumage is mottled and dark brown to black with greenish legs. Bitterns are wetland birds that specialise in shallow wetlands with a dense cover of sedges, rushes, reeds, cane grass and lignum with some open areas for foraging. The birds also utilise the rice crops of the Riverina over the summer months for breeding.

Why are they threatened?

  • Loss of wetland habitat due to river regulation, drainage of wetlands, reduced flooding, grazing and inappropriate management of wetlands.
  • Predation by foxes and cats.
  • Poor water quality effecting prey

What can I do?

  • Grow bittern friendly rice:
    • Maintain permanent water for a minimum of 140 days
    • Maintain cover on banks
    • Undertake a feral animal control program
    • Establish nesting pads
    • Establish or maintain habitat areas adjoining your rice crop.
  • Work with environmental water managers to provide habitat on wetlands on your property.

What have we achieved so far?

The Boosting the Bunyip Bird Project commenced in 2019 and will be completed in 2023. It aims to assist Australasian Bitterns by providing improved habitat and breeding conditions resulting in an increase in population numbers.

To-date the project has resulted in:

  • 14 Landholders growing 2858 ha of Bittern friendly rice including ensuring paddock are flooded for a minimum 140 days, maintaining cover on banks, establishing nearby refuge site, establishing nesting pads where rice will grow taller and thicker and participating in feral animal control programs
  • 516 ha of wetlands being modified with structures, pipes and levee banks to provide habitat that meets the need of Bitterns
  • 6,597 ha receiving targeted feral animal control during the Bittern breeding season.

Monitoring has identified that 13 chicks would have successfully fledged in the rice crops included in the program.

For more information contact Anna Wilson Senior Land Services Officer on 0428 964 785 or

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