Bittern Botaurus stellaris, Grand Butor.

2 occurrences (1 night-raven, 1 night-crow)

The bittern is a bird of the shape and size of a small heron which leads a retired life in reedbeds. But the male produces a very conspicuous call much like a foghorn boom. As it sings even more intensively at night it is therefore not surprising that this bird finds its place within the realm of superstition.

Speaking of the curious noise produced by the latter bird, [Willoughby] says: "This, I suppose, is the bird which the vulgar call the night-raven, and have a great dread of".[...]Goldsmith, in his Animated Nature described it from personal observation, and he too, calls it the "night-raven. Its hollow boom, he says, caused to be held in detestation by the vulgar. "I remember, in the place where I was a boy, with what terror the bird's note affected the whole village; they considered it as a presage of some sad event, and generally found, or made one to succeed it. If any person in the neighbourhood died, they supposed it could not be otherwise, for the night-raven had foretold it; but if nobody happened to die, the death of a cow or a sheep gave completion to the prophecy".(HARTING, p. 101)

BENEDICK (aside)

An he had been a dog that should have

howled thus, they would have hanged him, and I pray

God his bad voice bode no mischief. I had as lief have

heard the night-raven, come what plague could have

come after it.

(ADO 2 3 79-83)

The owl shriek'd at thy birth - an evil sign;

The night-crow cried, aboding luckless time;

Dogs howl'd, and hideous tempests shook down trees;

The raven rook'd her on the chimney's top,

And chatt'ring pies in dismal discords sung;

(3H6 5 6 44-9)

Both its old name of night-raven or night-crow and the beliefs attached to it, linked the Shakespearian bittern very much to the raven or the crow, the word night adding only more darkness and potential fear to the image.