Agami Heron (Agamia agami)

Agami Heron

[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Ardeidae | [latin] Agamia agami | [authority] Gmelin, 1789 | [UK] Agami Heron | [FR] Serin de Burton | [DE] Speerreiher | [ES] Garza Agami | [NL] Agami Reiger


Monotypic species


The Agami Heron, Agamia agami, is a medium-sized heron. It is a resident breeding bird from Central America south to Peru and Brazil.It is sometimes known as the Chestnut-bellied Heron, and is the only member of the genus Agamia. It is sufficiently distinctive to be classified as a separate genus with it s very long bill and bright coloration. The name Agami comes from a Cayenne Indian name for a forest bird.

Physical charateristics

The Agami Heron is a strikingly colored medium-sized heron. The rapier-like bill averages 14 cm) but sometimes
reaches 16 cm, about one-fifth the bird’s total length of 60-76 cm. The neck is very long and snake-like. Its back is bottle green, upper neck is chestnut with a central white stripe bordered by black contrasting with a grey lower neck, which sports a distinctive mat of shaggy, light grey feathers. The belly is chestnut. In the breeding season it has ribbon-like light blue crest feathers, up to 12 cm) long, and also broad slaty blue plumes on the lower back.
The Agami heron, also known as the Chestnut-bellied Heron combines short legs with a long neck.

Listen to the sound of Agami Heron

[audio: Heron.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 60 cm size max.: 76 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 38 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 4  


Latin America : East Mexico to Amazonia


This heron occurs in dense tropical lowland forest along margins of streams, small rivers, and swamps. They are also found less commonly along the margins of pools, oxbow lakes, and other small bodies of water. Is hardly ever seen in open water.


Nesting is during the wet season. It nests in small single species or mixed-species colonies. Nests are in isolated clumps of mangroves, dead branches of drowned trees in an artificial lake, trees standing in water, and bushes within marshes, well hidden within the vegetation. The nest is a loose, thick platform of sticks or twigs, rather deeply cupped, mostly built about two meters above ground. The eggs are pale blue-green or dull blue. Clutch size is two to four eggs, incubation unknown. Young gain weight quickly, more than doubling in the first week. When the Agami Herons abandoned the colony, it was occupied by breeding Cattle Egrets(Bubulcus ibis). The young are covered with sooty black down, the skin is pinkish except for a dark bluish area surrounding the eyes. The iris was bright yellow, the maxilla blackish with a greenish tone at the base, the mandible fleshcolored with a black tip, and the legs and feet were bluish-grey. The nests are loose, thick platforms of coarse sticks located l-2 m above the water in dark secluded locations well within the canopy of mangroves or fig (Ficus costaricana) trees. After flediging the young are remarkedly rapid in moving through the bushs and trees. The species breeds during the wet season and leave the breeding area to return to more forested areas.

Feeding habits

The Agami Heron is a specialized bank fisher. Its short legs and long neck permit a long lunging strike. It feeds alone, with individuals scattered along water courses. With its long neck and bill, it is primarily a fish-eating heron. The feeding behavior is little known, this heron is one of the still mysterious species in the Heron family.

Video Agami Heron


copyright: D. Ascanio


This species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 7,900,000 km2. The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population size criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., less than 10,000 mature individuals in conjunction with appropriate decline rates and subpopulation qualifiers), even though the species is described as ‘uncommon’ in at least parts of its range (Stotz et al. 1996). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The Agami Heron typically is seen standing in crouched posture on banks, dykes, bushes, or branches overhanging the water. It also walks slowly in shallow water at the edge of streams or ponds. It has a distinctive, low-pitched, rattling alarm call. Due to its secretive life style, hardly ever comes in the open, its natural behavior outside the breeding season remains partially unknown. The agami heron occurs in Central and northern South America, especially in the Orinoco and Amazon basins. In Surinam probably a rare species, found along the Brazilian border. A small colony was found along the shores of the Brokopondo Lake in 1965.
Agami Heron status Least Concern


No migratory movements recorded, the species is resident in the whole of the breeding range. Colonies are abandonded outside the breeding season, these Herons probably move in to denser forest.

Distribution map

Agami Heron distribution range map


Title Notes on the Breeding of the Chestnut-bellied Heron (Agamia Agami) in Venezuela
Abstract: Although some information on the breeding of the C..[more]..
Source: The Auk 99:784

download full text (pdf)

Title Notes on the Breeding of Chestnut-Bellied Herons (Agamia Agami) in Costa Rica
Author(s): Manuel Marin
Abstract: During a survey of the breeding birds of Costa Ric..[more]..
Source: Condor: Vol. 91, No. 1, January-February, 1989

download full text (pdf)

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