Ixobrychus minutus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Ixobrychus minutus
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1766)
Common Name/s:
English Little Bittern
French Blongios nain
Taxonomic Notes: Ixobrychus minutus (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993; Christidis and Boles 1994) was split into I. minutus and I. dubius by Christidis and Boles (2008) but this treatment is not followed by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group (BTWG) because the authors fail to adequately document their treatment and do not provide valid references to support the argument.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor/s: BirdLife International
Reviewer/s: Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/s: Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Angola (Angola); Armenia (Armenia); Australia; Austria; Azerbaijan; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Belarus; Belgium; Benin; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Botswana; Bulgaria; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; China; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Egypt; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Estonia; Ethiopia; France; Gabon; Gambia; Georgia; Germany; Ghana; Greece; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Hungary; India; Indonesia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Italy; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Latvia; Lebanon; Lesotho; Liberia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Madagascar; Malawi; Mali; Malta; Mauritania; Moldova; Montenegro; Morocco; Mozambique; Namibia; Netherlands; Niger; Nigeria; Oman; Pakistan; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Papua New Guinea; Poland; Portugal; Qatar; Romania; Rwanda; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Serbia (Serbia); Sierra Leone; Slovakia; Slovenia; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Spain (Canary Is. - Vagrant); Sudan; Swaziland; Switzerland; Syrian Arab Republic; Tajikistan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uganda; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; Uzbekistan; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Barbados; Cape Verde; Denmark; Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; Iceland; Ireland; Libya; Liechtenstein; Mongolia; New Zealand; Norway; Sao Tomé and Principe; Sweden; United Kingdom
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Behaviour Palearctic populations of this species undergo extensive post-breeding dispersal movements in all directions and are also fully migratory, travelling southward on a broad front (del Hoyo et al. 1992) between August and October and returning to the north from March to April (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Other populations (e.g. in the tropics) are resident but may make partial migratory movements connected with fluctuations in water-level (del Hoyo et al. 1992). In the western Palearctic and India the species breeds mainly between May and July, breeding from October to January in Australia, June to February in South Africa, or in relation to the rains in tropical Africa (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It breeds singly or occasionally in small loose groups in favourable areas (del Hoyo et al. 1992) (e.g. 2-3 nests were spaced 50 m apart at the same pond, Africa) (Brown et al. 1982). When not breeding the species may be found singly, in pairs (Africa) (Brown et al. 1982), in small flocks of 5-15 individuals (Snow and Perrins 1998) (e.g. on migration) (del Hoyo et al. 1992), or roosting in groups of 30 individuals (Africa) (Brown et al. 1982). In most areas it is mainly a crepuscular feeder (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005) although it may be diurnal in some regions (e.g. South Africa) (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Habitat The species is most common in freshwater marshes with beds of bulrushes Typha spp., reeds Phragmites spp. (Hockey et al. 2005) or other dense aquatic vegetation, preferably also with deciduous bushes and trees (del Hoyo et al. 1992) such as willow Salix spp. or alder Alnus spp. (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005). It may also occupy the margins of lakes, pools and reservoirs (del Hoyo et al. 1992), wooded and marshy banks of streams and rivers (Kushlan and Hancock 2005), desert oases, peat bogs (del Hoyo et al. 1992), wooded swamps, wet grasslands, rice-fields (del Hoyo et al. 1992), rank vegetation around sewage ponds (Hockey et al. 2005), and in places mangroves, the margins of saline lagoons (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and saltmarshes (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Diet Its diet varies with region and season (del Hoyo et al. 1992) but it is essentially insectivorous and takes aquatic adult and larval insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and beetles (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Other food items include spiders, molluscs, crustaceans (del Hoyo et al. 1992) (e.g. shrimp and crayfish) (Kushlan and Hancock 2005), fish, frogs, tadpoles, small reptiles and birds (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding site The nest is constructed from reeds and twigs (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and is normally placed near open poolsin thick emergent vegetation (Kushlan and Hancock 2005) (such as beds of bulrushes Typha spp. or reeds Phragmites spp.) (Hockey et al. 2005) close to the surface of the water or up to 60 cm above it (Snow and Perrins 1998). Alternatively nests may be placed in low bushes or trees (e.g. alder Alnus spp. or willow Salix spp.) up to 2 m above water (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Preferred nesting sites are usually 5-15 m out from the shore in water 20-30 cm deep (Snow and Perrins 1998). The species usually nests singly but may nest in loose colonies in favourable habitats with neighbouring nests as close as 5 m apart (solitary nests are usually 30-100 m apart) (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Nests are often reused in consecutive years (Kushlan and Hancock 2005).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is threatened by habitat degradation and loss (Hafner and Kushlan 2002) through direct destruction, pollution (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and hydrological changes (e.g. in rivers) (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). The species also suffers mortality as a result of drought and desertification on African staging and wintering grounds (degrades wetland habitats needed by the species) (Hafner and Kushlan 2002).
Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Ixobrychus minutus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 17 April 2014.
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