Medium-sized bird (approx 35 cm or 14 in). It is the smallest heron present in the province, similar in size to a pigeon. Males with black back, pink underparts and neck, cream-coloured flanks, grey neck and cheeks and black crown. Females with more muted and brown tones. Long, pointed yellowish bill. Greenish legs.
Humid areas of both fresh and brackish water, where there is abundant riparian vegetation (rushes, bulrushes, reeds). Reservoirs, banks, ponds and lagoons.
Species present in the province all year round, both in the breeding period and as occasional wintering or in migratory passage. Nest in reeds or on water, in dense areas of vegetation. One laying at the end of May of 5 to 6 eggs. The Little Bittern feeds on fish, amphibians, small reptiles and large insects that it captures among the vegetation of the banks. Lonely and stealthy bird with twilight habits.
Mouth of the Guadalhorce and the Vélez rivers, Fuente de Piedra and Campillos lagoons. Coastal reservoirs and dams, in particular between Estepona and Marbella.
The Little Bittern's typical attitude is to remain tense for hours and with the neck erect, with its bill pointing toward the sky, but with its eyes facing forward. It has an incredible facility to climb and run among the marsh vegetation thanks to its long legs and toes. Its Latin name comes from the Greek and makes reference to the fact that it is a tiny bird that lives among the rushes and mooes, since its call sounds like a moo, reason why it is called "avetorillo" in Spanish ("little bull bird").