Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

Capped Heron (Pilherodius pileatus)


French: Héron coiffé German: Kappenreiher Spanish: Garza capirotada

Ardea pileata


, 1783,



Has been placed with night-herons and even included in genus Nycticorax, but is not a nocturnal feeder, lacks distinct juvenile plumage and is morphologically closer to day-herons. Monotypic.


Basins of Amazon and Orinoco, ranging from E Panama E through the Guianas to E Brazil (S to Santa Catarina), and S through E Ecuador to S Bolivia, Paraguay, and N Argentina (where status unclear).

Descriptive notes

51–61 cm; 518–591 g. Back and wings pale pearl-grey to variable extent; neck, breast and wings washed pale buff during breeding, with neat black crown and up to... read more


Most frequently heard vocalization is a “woop, woop, woo”, given by pairs in contact, as well as a... read more


Forested swamps and mangroves, usually near rivers, streams or small pools, especially along muddy... read more

Food and feeding

Small fish, generally less than 5 cm-long, aquatic insects (including their larvae), frogs and tadpoles. Diurnal, passive feeder; captures... read more


Very little known. In Venezuela, birds in breeding condition taken in early Mar. Stick nest placed low in trees. Details from captive... read more


Sedentary, although sometimes considered to be present only seasonally in Darién (E Panama)... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Poorly known; thinly but widely distributed and evidently scarce, e.g. rare to uncommon in E Panama; uncommon in Brazil (especially... read more

Recommended citation

Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Capped Heron (Pilherodius pileatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 February 2020).