This genus, containing the typical Bitterns, is easily recognized by its comparatively short bill and large feet, and its long lax plumage, beautifully mottled with yellow and black. The bill is stout and deep at the base, much compressed, with the culmen considerably shorter than the tarsus, which again is much inferior in length to the middle toe and claw ; the nasal groove is broad ; the claws are long, and the tibia naked for a short distance. Tail-feathers 10. Sexes alike.
Five species of Bitterns are widely distributed ; one is a winter visitor to India and Burma.