The Bittern Project started in 2007 in response to concerns over the plight of the Australasian Bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus) and Australian Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutes). These elusive waterbirds inhabit dense vegetation in shallow waters. They are well camouflaged, making them difficult to see but can be readily identified by their distinctive ‘booming’ call. Unfortunately, in recent decades, drainage and degradation of wetlands have combined with drought to significantly reduce the extent of habitat suitable for these unusual birds, and numbers have declined. After initial population assessments, the Australasian Bittern is classified as Endangered.
Birdlife Australia’s Bittern Project aims to help ensure the long-term survival of Bitterns, as well as the other bird species which inhabit Australia’s freshwater wetlands. The project coordinates Bittern surveys across Australia’s south-east, and in Western Australia, using the data to build their understanding of Bittern populations and habitat preferences.
This project also engages with local communities and landholders, to promote habitat conservation and effective land management.
Volunteers are a key part of this effort and are encouraged to submit their sightings of Australasian and Little Bitterns to Birdlife Australia, or to take part in larger searches and listening surveys. To find out more about the Bittern Project, or to become involved, please visit the project website, or contact the Project Manager, Andrew Silcocks, at email@example.com or on 03 9347 0757.