This bittern is uniformly dark slaty blue above, and buff below overlaid with blackish vertical stripes running from the throat down onto the breast. The smallest heron in the region, it appears more like a large rail in the field. Most easily confused with green-backed heron.
Juvenile is similar to adult but the head and back feathers are scalloped with buff, and the breast is more rufous.
Freshwater ponds and lakes surrounded by trees, and especially flooded woodlands.
A barking 'ra-ra-ra-ra-ra' at the start of the breeding, otherwise silent.