The Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias) is a tropical bird. It has powder down – or pulviplumes – which is also called feather dust. The tips of the powder down feathers disintegrate and looks like dust. Herons and tinamous have powder down.
The Sunbittern has black, grey, and brown flecked feathers. Its wings have red, yellow, and black eyespots. Its crown is dark-grey with a white streak above and below its orange-brown eyes. It has a long, pointed beak that is black above and yellow-beige below. It has pinkish legs.
It measures about 46 centimetres (18 inches) tall.
The Sunbittern is from Central America and South America, from Guatemala to Brazil. It prefers coastal forests, near rivers, creeks, streams, ponds, or lagoons.
It eats insects, such as cockroaches, dragonfly larvae, flies, beetles, and moths. It also eats crabs, spiders, shrimps, earthworms, fish, tadpoles, toads, frogs, eels and lizards.
It mainly walks because it prefers living on the ground, even though it can fly.
The Sunbittern is solitary or found in pairs. It makes a shallow cup-shaped nest from mud and vegetation. It nests in a bush or tree. Females lay 2-3 eggs, which both parents look after. The eggs hatch after about 28 days. The chicks are born with some feathers and their eyes open – this is called precocial (many birds are born featherless and blind, which is called altricial).
The Sunbitten lives for about 15 years.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM