(Cochlearius cochlearius)




Facts about this animal

The boatbill is a smaller, stocky heron of 61 cm length and with a body-weight of about 600 g. It is characterized by large, dark eyes and a huge, black, shoe-shaped bill. In adults, most of the facial skin, crown and patch on hind neck are black and there is a long bushy crest, usually held flat. The forehead and throat are white, shading to greyish-buff on face, neck and breast. The remainder of the upper parts is dull ashy-grey, paler on wings and tail. Sides are black, and the centre of the belly dull rusty. The gular pouch and the legs are yellow-green, except during the breeding seasons, when the gular pouch turns black.

Boatbill herons roost by day in groups of up to 50 individuals, but are solitary at night when fishing from water’s edge. They nest in small in colonies. 2, rarely 3 pale blue eggs with fine reddish-brown speckles are laid into the rather small nests.

Did you know?
that their boat-like beak makes it possible to waddle through water and stab their prey with their beaks, or scoop of shrimp and other mud-dwelling prey?


Class AVES
Suborder ARDEAE
Name (Scientific) Cochlearius cochlearius
Name (English) Boatbill
Name (French) Savacou huppé
Name (German) Kahnschnabel
Name (Spanish) Garza pico de botac Pato cuchara
Local names Portugese: Arapapá, Arapapé Surinamese, Guyana, Carib, Arowak: Arapapa Guyana: Crapaud quack
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Elbert Greer



Range From Mexico to Brasil through central South America to northern South America.
Habitat Mangroves, swamps, along rivers, estuaries and lakes.
Wild population Widespread, generally found in all suitable habitat within their range (Red List IUCN 2011).
Zoo population 198 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 17 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Elbert Greer

Why do zoos keep this animal

The boatbill is not a threatened species, and zoos do not operate coordinated ex situ breeding programmes. It is mainly kept for educational purposes and for promoting wetland conservation.