Cocoi Heron, Ardea cocoi

The Cocoi Heron, (Ardea cocoi), is a species of heron in the Ardeidae family. It is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. It can also be found during the non-breeding seasons in Trinidad and Tobago. It is a rare vagrant to the Falkland Islands and Tristan da Cunha. Its natural habitats are rivers, swamps, and freshwater lakes.

The adult Cocoi Heron measures between 37 and 50 inches in length and up to 51 inches in height. It weighs between 3.3 and 5.5 pounds. It is long-legged and long-necked. The plumage is gray to bluish-gray with whitish head and neck. The crown and nape are black, as is the chest. The belly is white. It has black primary and secondary feathers and a yellowish pointed bill.

The diet of the Cocoi Heron consists of fish, crab, mollusks, frogs and reptiles. It hunts by waiting motionless or stalking its prey in shallow water before seizing it with a sudden lunge. The flight is slow and steady, with the neck retracted like most herons and bitterns. This characteristic trait distinguishes them from storks, cranes, and spoonbills, which extend their neck in flight.

It is typically solitary and shy, except during the mating season, when it usually breeds in colonies. The nest is usually in a tree and made up of sticks. The clutch is 2 to 4 sky blue eggs.

Image Caption: Ardea Cocoi. Credit: Dario Sanches/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)