Australasian bittern


The Australasian bittern (Botarus poiciloptilus) is a generally solitary bird, with a booming call that is said to be the basis of Australia’s mythical ‘bunyip’. Numerous Indigenous groups have stories of the ‘fearsome elusive creature of the swamps’.

The Australasian bittern favours wetlands with patches of tall vegetation and shallow water, and will travel for hundreds of kilometers between wetlands. It is considered the world’s most endangered bittern, with less than 1000 mature birds left in the wild.

Major threats

  • Loss of wetland habitat through water diversion and drainage
  • Increased salinity, siltation and pollution
  • Grazing of habitat by livestock and feral animals

Key actions

  • Identify and protect known and potential habitat sites
  • Manage wetland vegetation structure to maximise habitat potential
  • Exclude stock from wetland habitat

Photo: Andrew Silcocks