|Adult in Costa Rica|
L. Reichenbach, 1853
The agami heron (Agamia agami) is a medium-sized heron. It is a resident breeding bird from Central America south to Peru and Brazil. It is sometimes known as the chestnut-bellied heron, and is the only member of the genus Agamia (Reichenbach, 1853). In Brazil it is sometimes called Soco beija-flor the « hummingbird heron » thanks to its unique coloration pattern.
This uncommon species is 66–76 cm (26–30 in) in length. It is short-legged for a heron, and has a thin bill which is considerably longer than the head. The neck and underparts are chestnut, with a white line down the centre of the foreneck, and the wings are shiny green. Wispy pale blue feathers decorate the crown, sides of the foreneck, and lower back. The legs, bill, and bare facial patch are dull yellow. During the breeding season the facial patch can change color to reddish. The sexes are similar, but juveniles are largely brown above with a white foreneck, and streaked brown-and-white underparts. The normal clutch size is two blue eggs.
Distribution and habitat
The agami heron is a Neotropical species occurring in Central and South America.The distribution area of the species extends from south-east Mexico through central and Caribbean Central America through the Amazon basin in South America, covering the following countries: Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil.
This species is rare in open areas. The agami heron's habitat encompasses swamp forests, mangroves, forest streams and freshwater wetlands. They mostly occur from sea level to 300 m elevation. Records exist from 2600 m in the Andes.They nest in both single species and mixed species colonies on platforms of sticks in bushes and trees over water. Very few colonies are known to date but some are quite large, up to hundreds or even over a thousand nests. The following locations of colonies are known within the distribution area of the species:on a tiny island at the centre of a lagoon in the middle of the Pacuare Nature Reserve, Costa Rica, in the Tapiche Reserve, Peru, the Marais de Kaw-Roura National Reserve and Amazonian National Park, French Guiana, and other colonies outside of protected areas in Colombia, Mexico and Belize.
Despite its stunning plumage, this reclusive species' preference for shade and overhanging vegetation means that it is rarely seen. This is a quiet bird, but pairs and family groups may make various snoring or rattling sounds. Rattling sounds and slow walking away are a typical response to disturbance.
Agami herons stalk their prey (fish, frogs, small reptiles, and snails) in shallow shaded water in forested areas. They often standi still on perches or directly in the water, or moving very slowly. They rarely wade in open water.
Several courtship behaviors have been described and are used by both sexes. Lores can change color to an intense red, and both sexes show a short-lived silver crest.
This species is very discreet and scientifically little known, which is a challenge for conservationists. Its remote habitat and secretive behavior may explain its apparent rarity. However, it is considered as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List due to future habitat loss in the Amazon. Conservation efforts should concentrate on protection of important colony sites, developing a better understanding of the range, habitat needs and biology of the species.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Agamia agami". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- "garça-da-mata (Agamia agami) | WikiAves - A Enciclopédia das Aves do Brasil". www.wikiaves.com.br. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
- "Agamia agami (Agami Heron)". www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
- Reynaud, P.A.; Kushlan, J.A. (2004). "Nesting of the Agami Heron". Waterbirds. 27: 308–311 – via BioOne.
- "agami heron working group".
- Kushlan, J.A. (2016). "Behavior of the Agami Heron (Agamia agami)". Waterbirds. 39: 187–192 – via BioOne.
- Agami Heron Conservation Plan (Agamia agami). Stier, A. and Kushlan, J., 2015 (compilers). Managing editor: Benoit Hurpeau, President, GEPOG Association, 15 Avenue Pasteur, 97300 Cayenne, French Guiana.
- Birds of Venezuela by Hilty, ISBN 0-7136-6418-5
- Birds of Northern South America. An identification guide by Robin Restall, Clemencia Rodner and Miguel Lentino. Yale University Press:
Media related to Agami heron (Agamia agami) at Wikimedia Commons