Yellow Bittern

The Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis) is of Old World origins, breeding in tropical Asia from India and Sri Lanka east to Japan and Indonesia. It is mainly resident, but some northern birds migrate short distances.

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.


This small bittern averages 38cm in 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.

The juvenile is like the female but heavily streaked brown below, and mottled with buff above.

Male Yellow Bittern

Breeding / Nesting:

Their breeding habitat is reedbeds. They nest on platforms of reeds in shrubs. 4-6 eggs are laid.

Feeding / Diet;

Yellow Bitterns feed on insects, fish and amphibians.


The Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis) is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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