About
Animal Facts
Common Name:
Sunbittern
Scientific Name:
Eurypyga helias
Behavior:
  • When threatened, the sunbittern display their large, multi-colored wings. When opened, their wings display a pattern resembling eyes.
  • A quick thrust of their long bill helps them grab prey.
  • If a predator approaches a nest of chicks, one of the parents will pretend to have a broken wing to distract the hunter.
Diet:
Carnivore
Weight:
8 oz
Length:
18 in
Gestation Period:
27 days
Number of Young:
2 eggs
Habitats:
  • Forest
  • Wetlands
Fun Facts:
  • Wingspan 23 inches.
  • Oldest sunbittern on record lived to 33 years at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. Their life span in the wild is unknown.
  • Spreading their wings and tail reveals a vivid sunburst pattern that deters predators.
  • Sunbitterns can be seen nesting or sitting in trees above the pond or walking in ground cover in the North Carolina Zoo's Aviary.
Threats:
  • Habitat Loss
  • Poaching / Over Consumption
Endangered Status
Endangered Status
  • Extinct in Wild (EW)
  • Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Not Evaluated (NE)

Many birds use the wide variety of plant material found in the Aviary for nest building. For                some birds, such as the sunbittern, keepers provide a safe platform made of cork to act as their nest.  This platform is located over water, the sunbittern’s location of choice for nesting.

The Aviary design replicates a tropical rain forest. Mimicking their natural habitats has allowed birds to exhibit natural behaviors like courtship, successful breeding, and raising of young. LISTEN for their calls and LOOK for nests and courtship behaviors on your visit to the Aviary.

Saving Species Plan Logo

This species is cooperatively managed as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan program program. This program is responsible for developing a Breeding and Transfer Plan for each species in the program.