Neotropical Birds logo
Version 1.0

This is a historic version of this account.  Current version

 - Sunbittern
 - Sunbittern

Sunbittern Eurypyga helias

Sarah A. MacLean
Version: 1.0 — Published July 1, 2010

Sign in to see your badges

Welcome to Birds of the World!

You are currently viewing one of the free accounts available in our complimentary tour of Birds of the World. In this courtesy review, you can access all the life history articles and the multimedia galleries associated with this account.

For complete access to all accounts, a subscription is required.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in


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.

Distribution of the Sunbittern - Range Map
  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Sunbittern

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. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.sunbit1.01