With this genus we pass to the crepuscular and nocturnal Herons, leading to the Bitterns. Butorides is distinguished from Ardeola by having no separate nuptial plumage, by being dark-coloured throughout, by having the tibia feathered to within a short distance (half an inch in the Indian species) of the joint, and especially by having a shorter tarsus and smaller feet, the middle toe and claw being about equal to the tarsus, but much shorter than the culmen. The head is crested; scapulars and interscapulars elongate and lanceolate, not disintegrated. Rectrices 12.
Six species are known, with a wide range in Asia, Africa, and America ; only one occurs in India.