1570. Ardetta minuta.
The Little Bittern.
Ardea minuta, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 240 (1766). Ardetta minuta, Blyth, Cat. p. 283; Adams, P. Z. S. 1858, p. 508; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 756; Hume & Henders. Lah. to Yark. p. 296; Hume, S. F. i, p. 256 ; id. N. & E. p. 624; id. Cat. no. 935; Doig, S. F. viii, pp. 376, 379; Scully, Ibis, 1881, p. 692; Biddulph, Ibis, 1882, p. 289; St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 178 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 385; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 257; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxvi, p. 222.
Coloration. Male. Forehead and crown, back, scapulars, tertiaries, rump, and tail black, with bronze-green gloss; sides of head, including feathers above orbits, greyish or pinkish buff; hind neck bare, rest of neck greyish and isabelline behind, and yellowish in front and on the throat, sides of throat white; smaller and median wing-coverts ochreous buff, the latter paler and passing into very pale lavender-grey on the greater coverts ; primary-coverts, primaries, and secondaries blackish brown; upper breast yellowish buff, the feathers greatly lengthened so as to cover those of the lower breast, which are black with buff margins; upper abdomen buff, passing into the white of the lower abdomen and lower tail-coverts ; flanks with narrow brown shaft-lines.
Females differ in having the neck more rufous along the sides of the hind neck ; back and scapulars brown, with buff edges to the feathers; wing-coverts more isabelline than in males; fore neck and upper breast streaked with dusky, and the lower breast and abdomen and flanks with broad blackish shaft-stripes.
Young birds resemble females, but have the upper surface including the wing-coverts dark brown, with buff edges to the feathers, and the lower surface streaked with dark brown throughout.
Bill purplish yellow; legs greenish yellow; irides orange-yellow (Doig). Bill pale grey, dusky along culmen; orbital skin pale green; irides bright pale yellow; feet green, claws black (Scully).
Length about 14; tail 2; wing 5.75; tarsus 1.7 ; bill from gape 2.5.
Distribution. Europe south of lat. 60°, Africa in winter, and Central Asia as far east as Northern India. This Bittern is common in Kashmir, where it breeds, and is found throughout the Himalayas as far east as Nepal. It is also apparently a resident in Sind, and has been obtained near Delhi and Etawah.
Habits, &c. This Bittern breeds both in the Himalayas and in Sind in May and June; it places its nest, composed of grass and reeds, amongst rushes or wild rice, and lays 4 or 5 white eggs, measuring 1.34 by 1.