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Version 1.0

This is a historic version of this account.  Current version


Sunbittern Eurypyga helias

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

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


The primary song is a clear, descending, whistled "eeeeeeeeuree," heard most often in the morning. Will also give a series of shorter whistles or a ringing "ko way" call (Stiles and Skutch 1989).

Call is a decelerating series of growls, becoming hoot-like (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2007). Sunbitterns also use a diversity of trills, sometimes combined with rattles. The rattle may be involved in dueting during intrapair display. Disturbance of breeding birds rarely elicits three "screaming yowls" or four "bell-like" calls (Thomas and Strahl 1990).

When alarmed, utters a low hissing "like a tire going flat," or a series of 6-8 "ka" notes (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989).

Vocalizations are not known to accompany Frontal Displays (see Social and Interspecific Behavior), and are used only rarely in nest defense (Thomas and Strahl 1990).

Nonvocal Sounds

Trilling and rattling sometimes is paired with bill clacking (Thomas and Strahl 1990).

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