One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A large marsh bird of the heron family, typically smaller than a heron, with brown streaked plumage. The larger kinds are noted for the deep booming call of the male in the breeding season.
Genera Botaurus and Ixobrychus, family Ardeidae: several species, especially the American bittern (B. lentiginosus) and the least bittern (I. exilis)
- ‘The RSPB and English Nature revealed that bittern numbers have increased five fold in just seven years.’
- ‘The bittern, a brown heron, came close to dying out six years ago and conservationists feared there were only 11 ‘booming’ males left.’
- ‘The grey heron was anyway considered to be the best of a group of birds with similar lifestyles, to wit other herons and night herons, egrets, bitterns, and cormorants.’
- ‘It is part of a £4m project, half of which has come from the European Union, which will see bittern habitat developed at 19 sites throughout England.’
- ‘For many years male bitterns have been considered at times bigamists.’
- ‘Volunteers at Marbury Country Park, near Northwich, spotted three booming bitterns, members of the heron and stork family, feeding among reedbeds.’
- ‘The bittern has been transferred to a pen at the reserve which is home to the largest area of reedbed in the region.’
- ‘You might even catch a glimpse of the reserve's most celebrated resident, the extremely rare and very shy bittern.’
- ‘At Laurel Hill, you can spot waders such as herons, egrets, bitterns and glossy ibis, and predators such as ospreys, hawks, falcons and owls, with even the occasional bald eagle.’
- ‘For every obvious crossbill, razorbill, greenfinch, woodpecker, warbler, treecreeper, swift or flycatcher there is a mysterious wigeon, garganey, gadwall, bittern, siskin, pipit, shrike or twite.’
- ‘Binoculars are supplied so you can view the black teal, swans, dabchicks, ducks and even the spotless crake or elusive bittern.’
- ‘An expert warden will be on hand to help you find the elusive bittern and then it's back to the tearoom for a hearty bowl of soup.’
- ‘The bittern's diet includes fish, amphibians, insects, worms, small mammals and even young birds.’
- ‘Publication in 1930 of Bernard Riviere's magnum opus ‘A History of the Birds of Norfolk’ marked the commencement of almost three decades of steady increase in the numbers of the skulking and ever secretive bittern.’
- ‘Stretch your legs and breathe in some crisp seasonal air on a winter walk around the beautiful RSPB Leighton Moss Nature Reserve in search of the elusive bittern, next Wednesday at 10.30 am.’
- ‘The figures released today show the elusive bittern has become one of the UK's greatest wildlife success stories.’
- ‘Areas already under stewardship have seen a marked increase in previously declining bird species, including the stone curlew, bittern, lapwing, reed bunting, greenfinch, pipit, twite, and wagtail.’
- ‘The oasis was my only source for waterfowl, and I spotted a little bittern, a moorhen and a pair of red-wattled plovers with their distinctive - if not extremely annoying - voice.’
- ‘Public viewing hides at the reserve and on the shores of the Bay offer glimpses of the rare bearded tit and bittern.’
- ‘The bittern is one of the most threatened species in Britain - there are only 22 known pairs in the country.’
Late Middle English bitore, from Old French butor, based on Latin butio ‘bittern’ + taurus ‘bull’ (because of its call). The - n was added in the 16th century, perhaps by association with hern, obsolete variant of heron.
A concentrated solution of various salts remaining after the crystallization of salt from seawater.
- ‘A new process for recovery of Low Sodium Salt from bittern has been described in the present invention.’
- ‘This is curdled by calcium sulphate, or by a traditional curdling agent called nigari in Japan; this is bittern, the lye left over after the crystallization of salt from sea water.’
- ‘A combination of whey mineral and an alkali metal salt or bittern enhances the salty taste.’
Late 17th century: probably from the adjective bitter.
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