Bittern, or Ardea stellaris, L. a solitary British bird, inhabiting chiefly the fen-countries : it has a smooth head, and the plumage, in general, is of a pale-yellow, spotted and barred with black. - This bird may be distinguished from the whole feathered tribe, by dismal hollow note it utters, while skulking among the reeds and sedge ; which noise may be heard at the distance of a mile.
Bitterns construct their nests with the leaves of water-plants, on some dry place among reeds ; where the female deposits rive or six eggs of a cinereous green colour. - Though, in many respects resembling the Heron, bitterns are neither so destructive nor so voracious: being, in general, satisfied with frogs, insects, and vegetables. When wounded, and unable to escape, they still contend with the sportsman, and frequently strike at his , in the attempt to secure them.
Formerly, the bittern was held in great esteem at the tables of the opulent, and was sold at a high price : it is still, by epicures, considered a delicacy; its flesh partaking of the flavour of a hare, without having the rank taste of the heron.