Boat-billed Herons

Boat-billed Herons (Cochlearius cochlearius)

The Boat-billed Herons (Cochlearius cochlearius) – or simply Boatbills – are members of the heron family.

Distribution / Range

Their range stretches from Mexico south to Peru and Brazil and South America.

These nocturnal herons inhabit mangrove swamps.

Two Boat-billed Herons Resting On The Tree
Two Boat-billed Herons Resting On The Tree

Breeding / Nesting

Boatbills nest in mangrove trees (sometimes in colonies). Their nests are constructed out of twigs.

The averge clutch consists of 2 – 4 2-4 bluish white eggs.



The Boatbill measures about 54 cm in length.

The adults has a black crown and upper backl and a long crest. and upper back. The face, throat and chest are white; and the rest of the upper plumage is rufous with black flanks. The lower back and the wings are pale grey.

The scoop-like, broad bill is massive and black in color.

Juveniles are brown above and and brown-tinged whitish below. They lack the crest of the adult.


Diet / Feeding

Their diet consists of fish, crustaceans, eggs and insects.


Close up of Boat-billed Herons
Close up of Boat-billed Herons

Calls / Vocalization

Their calls are described as deep croaks and high-pitched pee-pee-pees.


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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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