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Heliornis fulica


  • Order: Gruiformes
  • Family: Heliornithidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Luo, Miles K.

Heliornis fulica

Poconé, MT, Brazil; 16 October 2009 © Joao Quental

The Sungrebe is a small aquatic bird that superficially resembles a grebe (Podicipedidae), but it is more closely related to the rails (Rallidae). Sungrebes have rather long, slender bills and lobed toes that are yellow with black bands. They are secretive birds that live on quiet streams among thick vegetation. When threatened, they may dive, or fly away low above the water. Its ability to remain inconspicuous make it a difficult to locate and observe, even when it is fairly common in a given location. It is the only member of the genus Heliornis and is the only species of its family in the Americas. Sungrebes  have a very short incubation period, altricial young, and wing pockets that allow the male to transport its helpless young shortly after hatching.

Recommended Citation

Luo, Miles K.. 2010. Sungrebe (Heliornis fulica), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Resident (nonmigratory)
  • Primary Habitat:Freshwater marshes
  • Foraging Strata:Water (surface)
  • Foraging Behavior:Glean
  • Diet:Small vertebrates and large arthropods
  • Sociality:Solitary
  • Mating System:---
  • Nest Form:Platform
  • Clutch: 2 - 4
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern