Boat-billed Heron

About the Boat-billed Heron
Also known as: Boatbill

The Boat-billed Heron is a unique and intriguing wading bird, easily recognized by its broad, scoop-shaped bill. This bill, which resembles the shape of a boat, is adapted for catching a variety of prey. The bird has a distinctive appearance, with a grayish-blue back, wings, and tail, a white belly, and a striking black crown and facial stripe. Its large, dark eyes are well-suited for nocturnal hunting.

This heron inhabits mangroves, swamps, and coastal lagoons throughout Central and South America, from Mexico to northern Argentina. It prefers dense, wet environments where it can easily find food and shelter.

Boat-billed Herons are nocturnal feeders, primarily hunting at night. They use their specialized bill to scoop up fish, crustaceans, insects, and other small aquatic creatures. During the day, they are often seen resting in dense vegetation, camouflaged from predators and disturbances.

During the breeding season, Boat-billed Herons nest in colonies, often in mangroves or other densely vegetated areas. They build platform nests from sticks and plant materials, typically placing them in trees or shrubs over water. Both parents share the duties of incubating the eggs and caring for the chicks.

Despite being widespread, Boat-billed Herons are somewhat elusive and not commonly seen. Their nocturnal habits and preference for dense habitats make them a fascinating, yet challenging, species to observe in the wild.

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International Names

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2015 Bonanza Bird #23: Boat-billed Heron

Boat-billed Herons are medium-sized herons found in parts of Central and South America. They live in mangrove forests and feed on a wide variety of food items, including tidal fare like shrimp, insects, and fish. The Boat-billed Heron is named for its large...  Read more »