The Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias) is a unique and visually striking bird found in tropical regions of the Americas, including Costa Rica. It is known for its stunning wing pattern and distinctive behavior, which combines characteristics of herons, bitterns, and rails.
Appearance: The Sunbittern has a rich plumage with bold and intricate patterns. Its wings feature a beautiful combination of black, white, and rich chestnut-brown colors. When the wings are spread, they display large eye-like spots, resembling a solar disc, hence the bird's name. The head is adorned with a crest, and the underside is dominated by bold black and white patterns.
Habitat: Sunbitterns are found in various lush habitats in Costa Rica, including lowland and mid-elevation rainforests, as well as riverbanks and marshes. They prefer areas with dense vegetation and water sources where they can find the prey they feed on.
Behavior: The Sunbittern is known for its remarkable and elaborate courtship display. During this display, it raises its wings to reveal the striking wing pattern, swooping and bowing to attract a mate. This behavior, accompanied by vocalizations, is a captivating spectacle for observers lucky enough to witness it.
Diet: Sunbitterns are carnivorous and feed mainly on small aquatic creatures such as insects, crustaceans, and small fish. They employ their long, slender bill to probe in the water or sweep it through shallow areas to catch their prey.
Reproduction: Breeding season for Sunbitterns can vary throughout their range. They typically construct a simple nest on the ground or in low vegetation near water. The female lays a small clutch of two to four eggs, and both parents share incubation duties. After the chicks hatch, both parents contribute to feeding and protecting them.