Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Near Threatened

Zigzag Heron (Zebrilus undulatus)


French: Butor zigzag German: Zickzackreiher Spanish: Avetigre enana

Ardea undulata

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,





Poorly known. Basins of Rivers Orinoco, Negro and Amazon: E Colombia through C, S & E Venezuela to the Guianas and NC Brazil, extending SW to E Peru and NE Bolivia.

Descriptive notes

28–33 cm; 123 g. Easily identified by its small size, relatively short dark bill, dark vermiculated plumage and habit of perching more like a passerine than another... read more


Most frequently heard around dawn and dusk, and can be very responsive to playback. Primary... read more


Streams, slow-moving rivers, pools, oxbow lakes, marshes and swamps in tropical evergreen forest (... read more

Food and feeding

Very little known. Recorded taking small fish and flying insects, but is probably opportunistic. Main activity apparently occurs during day... read more


Season Apr–Jul in W of range (Ecuador); nests with eggs in Pantanal (S Mato Grosso, Brazil) in early Dec and Mar, and in N Mato... read more


No information available.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. It is easily overlooked, especially without knowledge of its voice, e.g. not recorded in intensively... read more

Recommended citation

Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Zigzag Heron (Zebrilus undulatus). 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 29 February 2020).