1574. Botaurus stellaris.
Ardea stellaris, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 239 (1766). Botaurus stellaris, Blyth, Cat. p. 282; Adams, B. Z. S. 1858, p. 508; 1859, p. 188; Irby, Ibis, 1861, p, 246; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 757; Beavan, Ibis, 1868, p. 398 ; McMaster, J. A. S. B. xl, pt. 2, p. 215; Hume, N. & E. p. 624; id. S. F. i, p. 256 ; Butler, S. E. iv, p. 24; v, p. 238 ; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 490; Inverarity, ibid. p. 526; Hume,Cat. no. 936; Butler, S. F. ix, p. 434; Reid, S. F. x, p. 76; Oates B. B. ii, p. 258 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 385; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxvi, p. 253.
Nir-goung, Baz, H.
Coloration. Crown and nape black; upper plumage generally ochreous buff, with black or dark brown markings which cover the greater part of the back and scapulars, and become broken into angulate cross-bars on the wing-coverts, rump, and tail, and into more distant narrow angulate bars on the sides of the neck; quills rather irregularly barred black and rufous; a broad blackish stripe runs back from the gape; chin and throat whitish, with a median tawny band; rest of lower plumage yellowish buff, with brown mottled streaks on the fore neck, and black on the breast and abdomen.
Bill greenish yellow; bare space before eye yellowish green; irides yellow; legs and feet yellowish green (Seebohm). Bill pale yellow below and at the edges, brown above (Jerdon).
Length 28 ; tail 4.5 ; wing 13 ; tarsus 3.8 ; bill from gape .4.
Distribution. The Bittern breeds in the northern part of the temperate zone throughout the Palaearctic region from Western Europe to Japan, and migrates in winter to the countries round the Mediterranean, to S.W. Asia, India, Burma, and China. It is not common in Northern India, though found so far south as the Deccan, Bombay, Kamptee, and even it is said Bangalore ; it is also rare in Pegu. It has not been observed in Southern India, Ceylon, or Tenasserim. Adams states that it is resident in Kashmir, but this is very doubtful; so far as is known it does not breed within Indian limits.
Habits, &c. A nocturnal bird, hiding in reeds or swampy grass in the daytime. When seen it generally rises with a slow, noiseless flight close to the person who disturbs it. It lives on fish, frogs, water-insects, crustaceans, and worms, but, despite its diet, I can from experience corroborate Jerdon's statement that it is (at all events at times) good to eat. Its usual note is a croak, but in the breeding-season it makes a loud booming sound.