Agami Heron Agamia agami


Justification of Red List Category

Based on a model of future deforestation in the Amazon basin, and its susceptibility to hunting, it is suspected that the population of this species will decline rapidly over the next three generations, and it has therefore been uplisted to Vulnerable.

Population justification
Partners in Flight estimate the total population to number 50,000-499,999 individuals (A. Panjabi in litt. 2008), although the basis for this calculation is unknown (Martínez-Vilalta et al. 2014, Stier and Kushlan 2015) and the population may be considerably smaller (Stier and Kushlan 2015).

Trend justification
This species is suspected to lose 18.6-25.6% of suitable habitat within its distribution over three generations (22 years) based on a model of Amazonian deforestation (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). Given the susceptibility of the species to hunting and/or trapping, it is therefore suspected to decline by ≥30% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Agamia agami is a Neotropical species, and is generally scarce throughout its distribution. Its range extends from east Mexico in the north through Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. It was considered widespread and common in Panama in the 1960s, but is rare to the south in bordering Colombia. In the west, the species reaches north-west Ecuador (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Martínez-Vilalta et al. 2014). To the east, the species occurs in French Guiana, where it is considered widespread; the largest known colony (c.2,000 pairs) was discovered here recently (Restall et al. 2006). A second, disjunct range spreads south-east from French Guiana, through Suriname and Guyana (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Martínez-Vilalta et al. 2014). In Venezuela it is uncommon and very local, although recorded regularly in forest at Hato Piñeiro, Hato Cedral, and the Camani area (Hilty 2003). In north and central Brazil, it is thought to be unusually common along the Rio Juruá, and likewise in south-east Peru. Its distribution spreads as far as east Bolivia (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Martínez-Vilalta et al. 2014).


This species occurs in swampy stream and lake margins within tropical forest, and also in seasonal marshes. It tends to remain in lowlands under 300 m in elevation, but has been recorded at 2,600 m in Colombia's east Andes. Fish are its primary food source, with cichlids (Aequidens) and characins (Triportheus, Astyanax) recorded as prey. The breeding season appears to coincide with the arrival of rains; nest building occurs between June and September in both Costa Rica and Venezuela. The species is semicolonial. Nests are built in a tree or bush 1-3 m above water (Martínez-Vilalta et al. 2014).


The primary threat to this species is accelerating deforestation in the Amazon basin as land is cleared for cattle ranching and soy production, facilitated by expansion of the road network (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). It is also susceptible to hunting (A. Lees in litt. 2011).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
A conservation action plan was published in 2015 (Stier and Kushlan 2015).

Conservation Actions Proposed

Expand the protected area network to effectively protect IBAs. Effectively resource and manage existing and new protected areas, utilising emerging opportunities to finance protected area management with the joint aims of reducing carbon emissions and maximizing biodiversity conservation. Conservation on private lands, through expanding market pressures for sound land management and preventing forest clearance on lands unsuitable for agriculture, is also essential (Soares-Filho et al. 2006).


60-76 cm. Large, rufous heron. Body mainly rufous, with a green back and  wings and a white throat. Other distinguishing features include long yellow bill, red iris and yellow legs.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N., Symes, A., Sharpe, C J

Stier, A., Panjabi, A., Lees, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Agamia agami. Downloaded from on 28/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/03/2023.