Sunbittern Eurypyga helias

  • Order: Eurypygiformes
  • Family: Eurypygidae
  • Polytypic: 3 subspecies
  • Authors: Sarah A. MacLean

Sunbitterns are found near forested streams in the foothills and lowlands of Central and South America. They feed primarily on insects and aquatic invertebrates, which they glean from rocks or catch with a quick thrust of their long, pointed beak. In appearance they are something like a cross between a rail and a small heron. Although these birds can often appear quite cryptic with their heavily-barred plumage, spreading their wings and tail reveals the spectacular sunburst pattern for which they are named, and which plays an important role in intimidation displays. Sunbitterns can be tamed fairly easily and are kept frequently in zoos, where there are many records of pairs breeding successfully.


© Curtis Marantz

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

MacLean, S. A. (2010). Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.