Galapagos Lava Heron

Perfectly camouflaged to hunt among the lava rocks


The delightful Lava Heron is a close relative of the Great Blue Heron and is found exclusively in the Galapagos. It was initially thought that the Lava Heron was a completely different species and further study is still underway to find out more about this native bird.

These birds may be difficult to spot as the adult herons have uniform grey feathers. Although giving them a drab appearance to our eyes this coloring means they become camouflaged against the lava rocks where they live and hunt. These beautiful but small birds have a prominent short crest on their heads, a distinctive black beak, and grey legs which change to an intense orange color during the breeding season.

The Lava Heron feeds mainly on small fish, crabs, lizards, and insects. They can be seen feeding along the islands’ protected shorelines. On one of our Galapagos cruises, you will watch in amazement at the quick speed these birds use to catch crabs and fish - spearing them first before devouring them.

The Lava Heron is seen as a solitary bird, and they can become very territorial over their nests. These are often found on lava rocks or branches of mangrove trees. They generally breed between September and March and can lay eggs up to three times a year. However, your Galapatours naturalist guide should be able to point out these enchanting birds during your Galapagos cruise as they nest all year round.

Photos of the Galapagos Lava Heron

Fast Facts about the Galapagos Lava Heron

  • When fishing, Lava Herons may jump or dive to ensure a catch
  • Often seen fishing in mangrove lagoons during panga rides
  • The sometimes prey on Sally Lighfoot crabs
  • Their grey feathers give them good camouflage

Where can the Galapagos Lava Heron be seen?

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All cruises to visit the Galapagos Lava Heron