Lava heron

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Lava heron
Adult on Santa Fe Island
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
Genus: Butorides
Species: B. sundevalli
Binomial name
Butorides sundevalli
(Reichenow, 1877)

Butorides striata sundevalli

The lava heron (Butorides sundevalli), also known as the Galápagos heron, is a species of heron endemic to the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador. It is considered by some authorities — including the American Ornithological Society and BirdLife International — to be a subspecies (or even just a colour morph) of the striated heron (B. striata), and was formerly "lumped" with this species and the green heron (B. virescens) as the green-backed heron.[1]


The adult is slate-grey, which allows it to blend in with the hardened lava. The back feathers typically have a silvery sheen and it has a short crest on its head. When breeding, the heron has a black beak and bright orange legs, but these fade to grey after the breeding season.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

These highly territorial birds are found in intertidal zones and mangrove swamps on all of the islands of Galápagos Province.


Lava heron stalking crabs, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

The lava heron stalks small crabs and fish slowly before quickly spearing and eating them. They have also been known to eat the flies that gather near cacti.

Lava herons are typically seen hunched over and they have a sharp alarm call. These birds have little fear of humans.


Unlike most herons, these birds nest in solitary pairs in either the lower branches of mangrove trees or under lava rocks. They can breed year-round, though typically from September to March, and can mate up to three times a year.


  1. ^ a b "Galapagos heron". Avibase.


  • Heinzel, Hermann and Barnaby Hall. Galapagos Diary. Los Angeles; University of California Press, 2000.