Sunbittern, Eurypyga helias, Cartago Province, Costa Rica

SunbitternThe Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias) are found in the tropical regions of the Americas, with a range that stretches from southern Mexico through Guatemala to southern Peru and Brazil in South America. They are resident (non-migratory).

They are usually found in humid Neotropical forests with and open understory and near rivers and streams.

Subspecies and Ranges:

Eurypyga helias helias - Nominate form

Range: East of the Andes in lowland tropical South America, from the Orinoco basin, through the Amazonia
ID: Feet orange-yellow.

Eurypyga helias major

Range: Southern Mexico to Ecuador
ID: Feet are more reddish.

Eurypyga helias meridionalis

Range: Southern central Peru,


The Sunbittern shares many physical characteristics with the Bitterns. Their plumage is black, grey and brown. The flight feathers are vividly colored in the center and when the wings are spread - exhibit a pattern that resembles bright eyespots in red, yellow and black.

The color of the legs and feet range from yellowish-orange to reddish. The bill is long and pointed.

Breeding / Nesting

Most breeding occurs in the early wet season.

They construct open nests placed in trees. The average clutch consists of 2 eggs with blotched markings.

The hatchlings are covered in down. The nestlings remain in the nest for several weeks before fledging.

Diet / Feeding

Their diet consists of insects and they are often observed foraging on the ground and scratching for prey.

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson

Please Note: The articles or images on this page are the sole property of the authors or photographers. Please contact them directly with respect to any copyright or licensing questions. Thank you.