Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius)
Boat-billed Heron, Pixaim River, Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil, December 2006 - click for larger image Pixaim, Mato Grosso, Brazil
December 2006

The Boat-billed Heron is distributed from southern Mexico through Central America and into northern South America east of the Andes down to the mouth of the River Plate. It is found on the margins of freshwater rivers and lakes as well as in mangroves along coastal rivers.

Boat-billed Heron, Pixaim River, Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil, December 2006 - click for larger image It is notable for its massive bill, white forehead and large dark eyes.

The large eyes are an indication of the crepuscular nature of the bird. As a result they are generally difficult to see as, during the day, they roost hidden away up trees.

We noticed this bird at 4:30 p.m. but too late not to disturb it. Photo 3, unfortunately out-of-focus, indicates its "normal" posture. After we had disturbed it, it started to move up the tree on the bank and extended its neck as can be seen in photos 1 and 2.

Boat-billed Heron, Pixaim River, Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil, December 2006 - click for larger image They use their large bill to scoop up shrimps, insects, frogs and fish and tend to employ the "Standing Still" technique of feeding.The scientific name is derived from "cochlearium", the Latin for a spoon.

There are illustrations on Hilty & Brown, Plate 2; HBW, Volume 1, Pages 376 and 418; and Sick, Plate 3

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