Herons along with the ibises, egrets, and bitterns are of the Coconiformes family with about 25 representatives in Costa Rica. The best places to see many of these are the Palo Verde and Cño Negro areas and northwestern Costa Rica.
The immature little blue heron (garceta azul; Egretta caerula) is white with yellowish legs, a gray bill with a black tip, and gray wing tips. (The adult little blue heron is bluish gray with a purplish head and neck).
Of the non-white herons, the most abundant is the green-backed heron (garcilla verde; Butorides striatus), which at an average length of 43 cm, is the smallest heron. A greenish back, maroon neck, white stripe down the front of its throat and chest, black cap, and bight yellow eyes and legs make this quite a colorful bird when seen in sunlight, which is not often. They prefer to forage stealthily, singly or in pairs, in the dense vegetation at the side of most bodies of water, where they typically pump their tail.
Larger species include the boat-billed heron (pico cuchara; Cochlearius cochlearius), a stocky mainly gray heron with a black cap and crest and distinctively large and wide bill. yellow-crowned night heron (martinete cabecipinto; Nyctanasa violacae) is common in coastal areas and has an unmistakable black-and-white head with a yellow crown. Despite its name it is mainly active by day.
Tiger herons are large brownish herons with fine horizontal barring on most of their plumage and bright yellow legs. The most common of three such Costa Rican species is the bare-throated tiger-heron (garza tigre cuellinuda; Tigrisoma mexicanum) with a bare yellow throat.