Lava Heron

The Lava Heron (Butorides sundevalli), is a species of heron endemic to the Galapagos Islands. These highly territorial birds are found in intertidal zones and mangrove groves on all of the Galapagos islands.

The adult is slate-gray, which helps it 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 they fade to gray after the breeding season. Lava Herons are typically seen hunched over and they have a sharp alarm call.

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. 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. These birds have no fear of humans.

Photo By Tad Boniecki