Von Schrenck’s Bittern

Scientific Name: Ixobrychus eurhythmus

Malay Name: Gelam Belakang Coklat

Chinese Name: 紫背苇鳽

Alternative Name(s): Chestnut Bittern, Schrenck's Bittern

Range: Found from Siberia, Korea, Japan to eastern China and winters in southern China and Southeast Asia

Taxonomy: Monotypic.

Size: 39-42 cm

Identification: Male has dark chestnut upperparts contrasting strongly with mostly buffish underparts and wing-coverts. Female and immature resembles Cinnamon Bittern but has darker and more prominently spotted upperparts (and wings, for adult).    

Similar looking species: Cinnamon Bittern

Habitat: Freshwater marshes, forest streams, well-vegetated ponds and mangroves.

Behaviour/Ecology: Similar to other bitterns where it perches motionless for long periods before feeding.

Local Status: Rare migrant

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2016)

Location: Central Catchment Forest, Lower Pierce Reservoir, Tuas South, Pasir Ris Park, Sungei Buloh and Satay by the Bay.

Migrant bar chart (see more bar charts):

Von Schrenck's Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus
Estimated average number of individuals by week based on eBird data, Jul 2013 to Jun 2023
Peak weeks Jan 15-Jan 21, Feb 26-Mar 04, Mar 05-Mar 11 (1 more)
Early date 06 Oct 2012
Late date 08 May 2015
Singapore seems to be among the best places in the world to see this scarce and relatively poorly-known bittern. Find it quietly skulking along dark streams and mangrove edges from Oct to Apr.


BirdLife International. (2016). Ixobrychus eurhythmus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22697317A93607859.en. Accessed on 1 January 2023

Jeyarajasingam, A., & Pearson, A. (2012). A Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Oxford University Press.

Robson, C. (2014). Field guide to the birds of South-East Asia (Second Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing, London.

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