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Cocoi Heron / White-Necked Heron

The Cocoi Heron (Ardea cocoi) is one of the largest wading birds in the Tambopata region. Like other herons and egrets, the four foot tall Cocoi spends much of the day wading in shallow water at the edges of rivers, oxbow lakes, and marshes. Patiently watching and waiting for fish, frogs, and other small animals that make their home in the same aquatic habitats, the Cocoi Heron catches them with a swift strike of its heavy, dagger-like bill. It occurs in naturally low numbers but is seen by most guests of the Rainforest Expeditions eco-lodges because it prefers to spend long amounts of time standing in open areas.

The Cocoi Heron is easily recognized by the combination of such characteristics as its large size, black cap, white neck, orange-colored bill, and blackish belly. They are resident in the Tambopata region although some individuals may migrate up the Tambopata river from savanna habitats to the east during the dry season. Like other herons, the Cocoi prefers to nest in colonies and in the Tambopata region, probably does so in the vicinity of large oxbow lakes. It has few natural predators although large Black Caimans, Anacondas, and cat species probably wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to catch one given the chance.

Some interesting facts about the Cocoi Heron:
  • A bird with a Tupi name: Like several other species of South American birds, part of this heron’s name is derived from the language of the indigenous culture that was situated along the Atlantic coast of Brazil before the arrival of the Portuguese. The Tupi referred to this large heron as the “Cocoi” or “bird with a hopping walk”.

  • Related to Gray and Great Blue Herons: Guests to the Rainforest Expedition lodges who are familiar with Great Blue and Gray Herons will note several similarities between those species and the Cocoi. The fact that these three birds are closely related is demonstrated by their similar shapes, behaviors, and plumage patterns.

  • Also known as the White-necked Heron: The Cocoi has also been called “White-necked Heron” but since an African species of heron already goes by that name, most lists now refer to it as the “Cocoi Heron”.

  • Widespread South American bird species: Cocoi Herons thrive in a variety of wetlands from eastern Panama south to Chile and Argentina. They sometimes occur at high elevations in the Andean mountains and have shown up as vagrants to the Falkland Islands.
How to see the Cocoi Heron on a Peruvian jungle tour:
  • Watch the edges of rivers: Many of the boat rides to and from the Rainforest Expeditions lodges turn up sightings of this striking bird species. They can turn up anywhere along the river and are easy to spot as they stand at the edge of the water or on rocks in the middle of the river.

  • Visit an oxbow lake: Like many aquatic bird species that live in the Tambopata region, Cocoi Herons frequently use the fish-filled habitats of pristine oxbow lakes.
Take a family-friendly Amazon adventure tour with Rainforest Expeditions to see Cocoi Herons and other exotic birds that make their home in the Peruvian jungle.

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