Sunbittern

Eurypyga helias

The sunbittern (Eurypyga helias) is a bittern-like bird of tropical regions of the Americas, and the sole member of the family Eurypygidae (sometimes spelled Eurypigidae) and genus Eurypyga. It is found in Central and South America, and has three subspecies. The sunbittern shows both morphological and molecular similarities with the kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus) of New Caledonia, indicating a gondwanic origin, both species being placed in the clade Eurypygiformes. The bird has a generally subdued coloration, with fine linear patterns of black, grey and brown. Its remiges however have vividly colored middle webs, which with wings fully spread show bright eyespots in red, yellow, and black. These are shown to other sunbitterns in courtship and threat displays, or used to startle potential predators. Male and female adult sunbitterns can be differentiated by small differences in the feather patterns of the throat and head. Like some other birds, the sunbittern has powder down. The sunbittern has a long and pointed bill that is black above, and a short hallux as in shorebirds and rails. In the South American subspecies found in lowlands east of the Andes, the upperparts are mainly brown, and the legs and lower mandible are orange-yellow. The two other subspecies are greyer above, and their legs and bill are sometimes redder.
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Sunbitterns on Birda

Sightings

A map showing the sighting location
🦢
Ryan Deal
Tuesday 07 Feb 2023 - 5:59pm
Costa Rica
A map showing the sighting location
🦩
Christopher Collins
Friday 04 Feb 2022 - 12:23pm
Costa Rica
A map showing the sighting location
🦢
Lucas Corneliussen
Wednesday 23 Jun 2021 - 10:30am
Costa Rica
A map showing the sighting location
🐦
Edward Clifford
Tuesday 23 Jun 2020 - 2:29pm
Ecuador
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