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Sungrebe Heliornis fulica

  • Order: Gruiformes
  • Family: Heliornithidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Miles K. Luo

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.


© David L. Ross, Jr.

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

Recommended Citation

Luo, M. K. (2010). Sungrebe (Heliornis fulica), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.