Conservation Status: Least Concern
Scientific Name: Butorides Sundevalli
The Lava Heron, also known as the Galapagos Striated Heron, is an endemic wading bird only found at the Galapagos Islands.
In appearance, they look rather small for a heron, and have evolved their uniform grey color as camouflage to blend in perfectly with dark grey/black basalt lava rocks where they hunt. They have a short crest on top of their head, yellow/orange eyes, and males are slightly larger than the females.
Where to find them:On shore lines across the archipelago.
When to see them: All year round.
The Lava Heron lives and nests along the lava rock coastlines, saltwater lagoons, and mangrove forests of the Galapagos Islands. They prefer to nest as solitary pairs rather than together as a colony, with males known to be very territorial, chasing away intruders when necessary by raising its short crest
Their breeding season is usually from September to March, in periods after heavy rains. The parents build their nest together with twigs, usually about 1 metre from the ground, in mangroves or bushes. The female usually lays 1-3 eggs that are incubated for around three weeks by both birds. Chicks fledge 34-35 days after hatching, and are already independent just two weeks later. Lava Herons can mate up to three times in a single year.
What does the Lava Heron eat? Their diet consists mostly of crabs and small fish found in rock-pools, or small lizards caught among the rocks. They will also eat insects, shrimp, as well as eggs and chicks of smaller birds. They are stealth hunters, standing motionless, or wading slowly at the water edge, before pouncing on their unsuspecting prey.
• Lava Herons are monogamous birds, breeding with only one mate at a time during a single breeding season, attracting their mate in elaborate courtship displays.
• It is very easy to tell when an individual is ready to mate - their legs change color from a dull grey to a bright orange, and a male’s bill turns from grey to black.
Written by John Potts
John is the original founder of Happy Gringo. He is from London UK and has over 17 years of travel and work experience in Latin America. John ́s biggest passions in life are travel and nature, he has had the pleasure to visit more than 75 different countries, and calls Quito, in Ecuador, home.