Fr: Héron agami
Ang: Agami Heron - Chestnut-bellied Heron
All: Speerreiher
Esp: Garza Agamí - Garza panza rojiza - Garza Pechicastaña
Ita: Airone agami
Nd: Agamireiger
Sd: Agamihäger
Port: Garça-da-mata


Roger Ahlman
Pbase Galleries Peru and Ecuador & My bird pictures on IBC

Didier Buysse
Vision d’Oiseaux

Marc Chrétien

Tom Merigan
Tom Merigan’s Photo Galleries

Otto Plantema
Trips around the world

Text by Nicole Bouglouan


HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD vol 1 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334105

A GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF COLOMBIA by Steven L. Hilty and William L. Brown - Princeton University Press – ISBN 069108372X

A GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF MEXICO AND NORTHERN CENTRAL AMERICA by  Steve N. G. Howell, Sophie Webb - Oxford University Press - ISBN: 0198540124

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

BirdLife International (BirdLife International)

Heron Conservation - The IUCN-SSC Heron Specialist Group

Animal Diversity Web (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology)

Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre

Wiki Aves de Colombia

El Zoológico Electrónico (Damisela)



HBW Alive


Home page

Page Ardeidae Family

Summary cards


Agami Heron
Agamia agami

Pelecaniformes Order – Ardeidae family

The Agami Heron is a shy, solitary, infrequently seen heron. This species is sufficiently distinctive to be placed in its own monospecific genus Agamia.
It shows very peculiar features such as very short tarsi giving the bird a different stance, a long neck fairly similar to darters, and a long, very thin bill.
This secretive heron rarely ventures in open waters, preferring shady pools and streams inside the humid forest.   

Length: 65-76 cm
Weight: 475-580 g
Bill length: 14-16 cm

The adult has glossy green back, wings and tail, sometimes appearing powder blue and showing indistinct chestnut braces. The flight feathers are blackish.
On the underparts, the breast is pale grey to slate grey-green, and the belly is chestnut. The thighs are often slightly paler.

On the head, face and crown are bluish-black. There are long, pale blue to silvery-white crest feathers. The chin is white. The long neck is chestnut with central white stripe bordered with black. It becomes mostly slate grey on the lower neck where we can see shaggy, sickle-shaped, silvery-blue feathers.

The very long, narrow bill is greenish-yellow to bluish with dark tip. The lores are pale yellowish-green with blackish band, becoming red in breeding plumage. The eyes are pale reddish-brown, orange or red. Legs and feet are yellow to olive-green, and become black first, then grey during the breeding season.

Both adults have similar plumage, but the female is smaller than male.
In non-breeding plumage, they lack the long, pale crest and the chestnut back feathers. The bare parts vary seasonally.

The juvenile has dull brown upperparts with blacker crown and back. The underparts are whitish with black and buff streaks on the lower breast, whereas the throat is streaked white and brown.
On the head, the facial skin is dull greenish-yellow with blackish band on lores.
The bill is greenish-yellow and the eyes are grey-white. Legs and feet are greenish-yellow, mostly greenish behind.
It resembles more adult in second year, with less extensive neck plumes and cinnamon-mottled underparts.           
It has the full adult plumage at 3 years.


The Agami Heron is found in E Mexico, through Central America and N South America to NE Ecuador, E Bolivia and N and C Brazil.

The Agami Heron frequents the dense tropical lowland forests and the streams, small rivers, swamps and pools inside the forest. It can be seen, although less commonly, along the margins of pools, oxbow lakes and small water bodies.
Rarely present in dry forests along streams, this species is visible from coastal mangroves to 300 metres of elevation.

The Agami Heron gives a “squok” in flight and a low “guk” in alarm, sometimes repeated in series “guk,guk,guk,guk” or “krr,krr,krr,krr”.
At nest, they give greeting calls “chup, chup, chup, chup”. The contact call is “chucuchuc, chucuchuc…”
However, as a secretive species, the Agami Heron is usually silent.

The Agami Heron feeds mainly on small fish, but it also takes frogs, small reptiles, lizards and snails. It feeds mainly on surface-swimming fishes, ranging between 2 and 20 centimetres long.
It waits for preys in shallow waters while walking slowly on the shore, or it forages in the overhanging vegetation.

It often feeds alone or in small family groups according to the season. It stands motionless like numerous Ardeidae, or walks slowly, or crouches motionless in an almost horizontal postures against the surface of the water. Its long neck allows a longer lunging strike.

The Agami Heron is difficult to observe, often concealed among the dense marshy vegetation. When it is alarmed, it climbs slowly into the branches or it takes off. It probably spends most of its time resting among the foliage when it is not feeding.

The Agami Heron is monogamous, although extra-pair copulations are suspected, in spite of the monogamous status. It is a colonial nester and forms mixed small colonies.
The male arrives first at the breeding colony, and establishes the nest-site. During the breeding season, the pale crest feathers are longer, like the broad pale blue plumes on the lower backside of the body. They are used in courtship displays. The male puffs them out and shakes them to attract females.
During the copulation, it raises the head vertically before to lower it abruptly in a bobbing fashion. Then, it produces bill-snapping.

Another displays show the bird standing erect and putting the breast out while rocking the body from side to side. When it reaches the central position, it shakes head, bill and crest, and produces bill-clapping. Then, it lowers slowly the head towards one foot and then towards the other with a trembling motion. During this display, the wings are semi-open and the crest slightly erect. This behaviour is often performed by the Agami Heron, and it appears to be unique among Ardeidae.
Both mates engage in bill duel display. They jab the bill towards each other and withdraw it immediately.

There is no evidence of migration, but the Agami Heron disperses outside the breeding range. There are records from E Brazil, Andes of Colombia at 2600 metres of elevation, and Nueva Leone in Mexico. These dispersions may occur during the dry season and it probably moves into denser forests.
The flight is slow and may appear rather heavy, but it is strong and powerful. They use generally the flapping flight.

The breeding season is usually related to rains, and the nesting occurs during the wet season. It varies from June/September in Venezuela and Trinidad, to March/July in Costa Rica.
Once the pair is formed, male and female builds the nest, but the nesting territory is defended mainly by the male.
The nest is typical of Ardeidae, a loose, thick platform made with sticks and twigs. There is a fairly deep inner cup. It is placed within the canopy in isolated clumps of mangroves, dead branches in the water, or trees standing in water, or within the marshy vegetation, often only 1-3 metres above the water.
The loose colonies include only 6-11 nests, and some other species such as Green Backed Heron, Boat Billed Heron and Cattle Egret may nest in the same colony, alongside with Anhingas and ibises.

The Agami Heron is vulnerable, but as this species is living in dense forests and rarely comes in open areas, it is difficult to see it. It is fairly widespread but usually scarce to locally frequent according to the range.
The Agami Heron is threatened by heavy deforestation in the Amazon Basin for cattle and agriculture expansion. It could be affected too by hunting and trapping.
Total population is unknown, but estimated between 50,000/499,999 individuals. Tis population is suspected to decline and currently, the Agami Heron is evaluated as Vulnerable.

The female lays 2-4 pale blue-green eggs. The incubation period is unknown, but usually, this period lasts between 18 and 26 days in most species, and is shared by both adults. The young fledge between 2 and 3 weeks after hatching, but they still depend on parents for 6-7 weeks.