It is among the smallest heron species. It has a short neck, longish bill and buff underparts. The male's back and crown are black, and the wings are black with a large white patch on each wing. The female has a browner back and a buff-brown wing patch. It is a very small bittern; measuring 25?36 cm (9.8?14.2 in) in length, 40?58 cm (16?23 in) across the wings and weighing 59?150 g (2.1?5.3 oz).

Habitat and Distribution

Breeds in Africa, central and southern Europe, western and southern Asia, and Madagascar. Birds from temperate regions in Europe and western Asia are migratory, wintering in Africa and further south in Asia, while those nesting in the tropics are sedentary. It is rare north of its breeding range.


These bitterns feed on fish, insects and amphibians.


The little bittern's breeding habitat is reed beds. It nests on platforms of reeds in shrubs, and four to eight eggs are laid. It can be difficult to see, given its skulking lifestyle and reed bed habitat.