Thursday, December 8, 2011

Yellow Bittern

The Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis) is a small bittern. It is of Old World origins, breeding in much of the Indian Subcontinent, east to Japan and Indonesia. It is mainly resident, but some northern birds migrate short distances. It has been recorded as a vagrant in Alaska and there is a single record from Britain, from Radipole Lake, Dorset on November 23, 1962 - however, the BOU have always considered this occurrence to be of uncertain provenance and currently it is not accepted onto the official British List.

This is a small species at 38 cm length, with a short neck and longish bill. The male is uniformly dull yellow above and buff below. The head and neck are chestnut, with a black crown.

The female's crown, neck and breast are streaked brown, and the juvenile is like the female but heavily streaked brown below, and mottled with buff above.

Their breeding habitat is reedbeds. They nest on platforms of reeds in shrubs. 4-6 eggs are laid. They can be difficult to see, given their skulking lifestyle and reedbed habitat, but tend to fly fairly frequently, when the striking contrast between the black flight feathers and the otherwise yellowish plumage makes them unmistakable.

Yellow Bitterns feed on insects, fish and amphibians.