National Aquarium – Sunbittern


Eurypyga helias

National Aquarium – Sunbittern National Aquarium – Sunbittern National Aquarium – Sunbittern National Aquarium – Sunbittern

This slim, solitary bird has a blackish, slate-colored head with two white stripes on either side of the face. Its body is mottled, brown with black, and it has some white marks. A long, pointed black and orange bill and red eyes are distinctive.

Did You Know?

This bird is named for the sun-like markings seen on extended wings.


The sunbittern's diet consists of large insects, small fish, frogs, and crayfish.


Sunbitterns average about 18–20 inches in length.


Sunbitterns are found in Central America and northern South America from Guatemala to northern Brazil, and are usually seen on the ground near forest pools and streams.

Population Status

Sunbitterns are not threatened.


Predators include birds of prey, caiman, and snakes. Sunbittern chicks and eggs may also be eaten by small mammals and snakes.

Back to the Top

A Note From the Caretaker

Keep an eye out for these birds, and you may be lucky enough to see an amazing transformation. When they are disturbed or threatened, they spread their wings and exhibit very large eyespots—black, yellow, and chestnut. They seem to be saying, 'See how big I am. You can’t hurt me.'