Boat-Billed Heron

Boat-Billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius

Type of Animal:

Rivers, freshwater river margins, mangroves/mangrove swamps, swamps, seasonal lagoons, freshwater wetlands, estuaries, wooded/mangrove fringes of freshwater creeks/lakes/marshes often w/ thick bushes and/or trees overhanging water, freshwater/saltwater creeks, freshwater/saltwater lakes/lake margins, marshes/marsh margins, tropical lowland forest, bog-like areas w/ thick vegetation/slow-moving water, forest streams w/ thick vegetation/slow-moving water, oxbow lakes w/ thick vegetation/slow-moving water, lagoons w/ thick vegetation/slow-moving water, thickly vegetated areas along slow-moving broad rivers, slow-moving/still water areas w/ heavy vegetation

S Mexico, Central America, NW/N/S Colombia, N/E/far S Venezuela, Guiana Shield, Brazil (except for part of NE & farther SE region), NE Ecuador, E Peru, N/E Bolivia, Paraguay, extreme NE corner of Argentina

Adults pale gray to white w/ chestnut-rufous belly/black flanks, distinct black broad boat-shaped scoop-like bill, white cheeks/forehead, huge bulgy eyes, greenish legs, males have larger crests than females, females grayer than males, juveniles darker than adults w/ dull rufous back/wings, dingy white below w/ pinkish/buff wash, & much shorter/nonexistent crests

Fish, crustaceans, insects, amphibians, small mammals, eggs

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos, aquariums, & wildlife centers

Often hunt alone but roost in heronries/colonies of up to 50 birds. Sometimes breed as single pairs but often breed in colonies/heronries of around 25 pairs.

Additional Info:

Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Heronry

Male: 1.5-1.69 lbs
Female: 1.11-1.6 lbs
Young: 0.5 lb

1 month 

Life Span:
9-15 years

1.5-2.083 ft, same for both sexes

Body Length:
1.5-2.083 ft, same for both sexes

Main predators are raptors, snakes, foxes, crocodilians, & felids.
They have 2.5 ft wingspan.
Usually hunt at night but will hunt by day in breeding season.
Usually lay 2-4 eggs per clutch, w/ larger chicks often killing smaller chicks after hatching. Lay 1-2 clutches per year.
Chicks stay w/ parents for 2 months.
During breeding period, they’ll perform bill-clattering/preening displays to attract mates.
These herons have specialized feathers & never molt.
Eggs laid in flat twig/stick nests. Nests often reused.

Fun Fact(s):
Prey caught by wading & then scooping it into boat-shaped bill. Bill allows them to feel out prey in water. They’re ambush hunters standing motionlessly, watching for signs of movement. They’ll also disturb water/chase prey.
They’re very shy/secretive & will abandon nests if sufficiently disturbed by human presence.

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