Boat-Billed Heron

Cochlearius cochlearius

Scientific Name

Boat-Billed Heron:  
Cochlearius cochlearius

Distribution and Habitat

Geographic Range

Boat-Billed Herons are found in Mexico, south to Central America, South America and throughout Belize, Peru and Brazil.

Natural Habitat

Boat-Billed Herons are found near salt or freshwater, such as creeks, lakes and marshes.

Physical Characteristics

  • Sporting a black crown, long crest and upper back, the heron’s face, throat and breast are white.  Unlike some herons, the boat-billed has short stocky legs. Its wings and lower back are pale gray.  The massive scoop-like bill, which gives it its name, is mainly black.

Quick Facts

  1. The boat-billed heron communicates is a specialized way with mechanical vocal sounds which resemble human hand claps.  Other herons rely on visual gesturing to communicate.

  2. It is mainly nocturnal but can be seen during daylights hours as well.

  3. Boat-billed herons nest in trees, bushes, or reed beds. Both males and females participate in nest building, incubating, and feeding the chicks.

  4. To waterproof its feathers, the boat-bill has powder down, a kind of feather that never molts out and grows continuously. Tips gradually crumble into powder, and the bird spreads this powder over feathers by preening.


M&T Bank Rainforest Falls

Conservation Status

Least Concern: The Boat-Billed Heron is common or abundant and is likely to survive in the wild.

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Boat-Billed Herons feed at night on fish, shrimp, insects, amphibians and small mammals.