Secretive Heron of the Gallery Forest
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Herons, egrets, and storks are always fun birds to observe and photograph. They often congregate together, stalking open wetlands or marshes, hunting patiently for fish or invertebrates in waterways.
One special wading bird species requires more planning and patience to observe than most: the reclusive, solitary Agami Heron. This medium-sized heron is notoriously difficult to find, as they hunt silently along shallow river edges, concealed by dense, overhanging vegetation. They have a long neck and relatively-short legs for a heron of its size (between Snowy and Reddish Egrets), preferring to stay in shallow water along tranquil river edges.
Agami Herons are found in tropical lowland forests of Central and South America. Their secretive, nocturnal nature makes them difficult to study. The Agami Heron’s long, slim bill is the longest of any herons found in the Americas. They feature handsome multi-colored plumage of blues, greens and chestnut, and are so distinctive that they command their own genus, Agamia. The name “Agami” comes from an indigenous Cayenne word for ‘forest bird.’
In our tours of the Pantanal, Brazil, the southernmost range of the species, we look for this target in the Pixiam River. We embark on a skiff at sunset, gliding silently along the waterway, peering through overhanging vegetation. Sharp eyes spot the elusive Agami perched deep in the shadows, intent on hunting fish, snails, and insects.