The boat-billed heron (Cochlearius cochlearius), colloquially known as the boatbill, is an atypical member of the heron family, and was formerly thought to be in a monotypic family, the Cochlearidae. It lives in mangrove swamps from Mexico south to Peru and Brazil. It is a nocturnal bird, and breeds semicolonially in mangrove trees, laying two to four bluish-white eggs in a twig nest.
The boat-billed heron grows to about 54 cm long. Adults are pale grey to white in color, with chestnut-colored abdomens and black flanks. The massive, broad, scoop-like bill, which gives rise to this species' name, is mainly black. Tis bird is also adorned with a crest which is thought to be used in mate attraction as it is larger in males. The sexes are similar in appearance, the main differences being that females are slightly smaller, grayer in appearance, and have shorter crests than males. Newly hatched nestlings have green-yellow skin, with their upperparts covered in gray down feathers. Their upper bill is black and they have green-yellow legs. Juveniles are darker in color than adults and lack a crest.