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Bitterns bounce back!

31 March 2022

Bitterns bounce back!

Britain’s loudest bird has rebounded from the brink of a second extinction.

Following being driven out by the Victorians, bittern (Botaurus stellaris) are now spreading into areas of the country they haven’t been seen in for many years.

A bird whose call is the loudest of all birds in the UK has bounced back in England.

The bittern was previously wiped out across the UK during the late nineteenth century as the reedbeds where it lived were drained. While bitterns returned to England in the 1900s, the population began to fall again until 1997 when only tens of the birds remained.

Concerted conservation efforts have now seen populations of the birds reach over 200 as the males’ distinctive call returns to sites across England. The birds are now moving further north, with hopes they could one day return to Scotland and Ireland.

Simon Wotton, senior conservation scientist at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), says, ‘Bitterns are one of [the UK’s] most charismatic birds. Their astonishing recovery from the brink of extinction is a real conservation success story and example of what is possible through targeted efforts to restore wildlife habitat.