Yellow Bittern

Scientific Name: Ixobrychus sinensis

Malay Name: Gelam Kuning

Chinese Name: 黄苇鳽

Range: Found from the Indian subcontinent to China, Siberia, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia with the northern populations wintering south to Southeast Asia.

Taxonomy: Monotypic.

Size: 36-38 cm

Identification: Male has blackish crown and uppertail-coverts, pale brownish mantle, yellowish-buff underparts with light streaks down foreneck and upper breast and blackish flight feathers that contrast sharply with pale buff wing coverts. Female resembles male but has reddish brown crown. Juvenile resembles female but has bolder streaks on crown, upperparts and underparts.

Habitat: Grasslands and marshes near freshwater wetlands, well-vegetated ponds and mangroves.


Local Status: Common migrant and rare resident

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2016)

Location: Singapore Botanic Gardens, Satay by the Bay, Kranji Marsh, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Chinese/Japanese Gardens, Seletar, Sengkang Riverside Park, Punggol Barat, Lorong Halus, Pasir Ris Park and any suitable patch of habitat.

Featured articles:

Migrant bar chart (see more bar charts):

Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis
Estimated average number of individuals by week based on eBird data, Jul 2013 to Jun 2023
Peak week Jan 01-Jan 07
Early date 01 Jul 2020
Late date 30 Jun 2022
Although a small resident population is believed to occur, the vast majority of Yellow Bitterns in Singapore are likely migrants. This is evident from the bar chart, which shows very small numbers from Jun-Sep.


BirdLife International. (2016). Ixobrychus sinensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016. 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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