Animal Facts
    Common Name:
    Scientific Name:
    Eurypyga helias
    • 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.
    8 oz
    18 in
    Gestation Period:
    27 days
    Number of Young:
    2 eggs
    • 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.
    • 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.