Boat-billed heron

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Boat-billed heron
Cochlearius cochleariaPCCA20071227-8443B.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
Genus: Cochlearius
Brisson, 1760
Species: C. cochlearius
Binomial name
Cochlearius cochlearius
Linnaeus, 1766
Boat billed Heron at Lowry Park Zoo

The boat-billed heron (Cochlearius cochlearius), colloquially known as the boatbill, is an atypical member of the heron family, and was formerly thought to be in a monotypic family, Cochlearidae. It lives in mangrove swamps from Mexico south to Peru and Brazil. It is a nocturnal bird, and breeds semi-colonially in mangrove trees, laying 2–4 bluish white eggs in a twig nest.


The boat-billed heron is about 54 cm long. The adult's crown, long crest and upper back are black. The face, throat and breast are white, and the lower underparts are rufous with black flanks. The wings and lower back are pale grey. The massive broad scoop-like bill, which gives rise to this species' name, is mainly black. Immature birds have mainly brown upperparts and brown-tinged whitish underparts, and lack the crest.


This species feeds on fish, rodents, eggs, crustaceans, insects and amphibians. Its calls include a deep croak and a high-pitched pee-pee-pee.

Along the Tarcoles River in Costa Rica.




  • Hilty, Steven L (2003). Birds of Venezuela. London: Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-7136-6418-5. 
  • ffrench, Richard (1991). A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago (2nd ed.). Comstock Publishing. ISBN 0-8014-9792-2. 
  • A guide to the birds of Costa Rica by Stiles and Skutch ISBN 0-8014-9600-4

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