Boat-billed Heron

(Cochlearius cochlearius)


Boat-billed Herons are named for their oddly shaped bills that resemble an overturned row boat.

Boat-billed Heron have shorter legs and squatter bodies than most herons.  Their distinguishing features are their large broad bill and large dark eyes. The eyes are an indication of their foraging behavior, which takes place at dusk and early night. Males and females look the same in this species.


From Mexico south to Peru and Brazil.


Mangrove swamps.


Boat-billed Herons are generalists, eating fish, small rodents and reptiles, the eggs of other smaller birds, and various insects and crustaceans.


Female lays 2-4 bluish white eggs per clutch in a twig nest. The incubation period is about 20 days and both parents assist with incubation and chick rearing.


Not Under Threat (Least Concern)

At the Aviary

See the Boat-billed Herons in our Wetlands of the Americas exhibit.