Botaurus Stephens, Gen. Zool. (Shaw), xi, (2) p. 592 (1819).
Type by mon., Ardea stellaris Linn.
This genus, which contains the true Bitterns, can be easily recognized by the short, stout bill, larger feet and long, lax plumage forming decorative plumes all down the fore-neck and upper breast; the bill is short, deep at the base and much compressed, the culmen, shorter than the tarsus ; the nasal groove is broad and deep, the linear nostril being placed near the base; the tarsus is stout and short, being less in length than the middle toe and claw; the tibia is partly naked; the tail is short and composed of two feathers only. Sexes alike.
The genus is distributed throughout the temperate and tropical countries.