Bittern in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

bit'-ern (qippodh; Latin Botaurus stellaris; Greek echinos): A nocturnal member of the heron family, frequenting swamps and marshy places. Its Hebrew name means a creature of waste and desert places. The bittern is the most individual branch of the heron (ardeidae) family on account of being partially a bird of night. There are observable differences from the heron in proportion, and it differs widely in coloration. It is one of the birds of most ancient history, and as far back as records extend is known to have inhabited Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and America. The African bird that Bible historians were familiar with was 2 1/2 ft. in length. It had a 4-inch bill, bright eyes and plumage of buff and chestnut, mottled with black. It lived around swamps and marshes, hunting mostly at night, and its food was much the same as that of all members of the heron family, frogs being its staple article of diet. Its meat has not the fishy taste of most members of the heron family, and in former times wa s considered a great delicacy of food. In the days of falconry it was protected in England because of the sport afforded in hunting it. Aristotle mentions that previous to his time the bittern was called oknos, which name indicates "an idle disposition." It was probably bestowed by people who found the bird hiding in swamps during the daytime, and saw that it would almost allow itself to be stepped upon before it would fly. They did not understand that it fed and mated at night. Pliny wrote of it as a bird that "bellowed like oxen," for which reason it was called Taurus. Other medieval writers called it botaurus, from which our term "bittern" is derived. There seems to be much confusion as to the early form of the name; but all authorities agree that it was bestowed on the bird on account of its voice...

Link: https://bible-history.com/isbe/B/BITTERN/