Family Finfoots (Heliornithidae)

Least Concern

Sungrebe (Heliornis fulica)


French: Grébifoulque d’Amérique German: Zwergbinsenralle Spanish: Avesol americano

Colymbus fulica


, 1783,



DNA analysis suggests possible link between present species and Aramidae. Monotypic.


SE Mexico (S from Veracruz and Oaxaca) S through Central America and throughout most of N South America (mainly E of Andes) as far S as Bolivia (in Pando, La Paz, Beni, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and Tarija)#R, Paraguay (few records)#R and NE Argentina (Misiones).

Descriptive notes

26–33 cm; 120–153 g. Unmistakable. Smallest member of Heliornithidae; lacks the stiffened rectrices of Podica and Heliopais; white tip to tail... read more


Song is a series of deep, hollow, honking notes, rendered either “ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh... read more


Forest streams and rivers, especially quiet backwaters; also freshwater lakes and ponds. Typically... read more

Food and feeding

Little known. Mostly takes aquatic insects (adults and larvae), including dragonflies; ants, beetles and spiders that have fallen into the... read more


Males reported to be more territorial during spring breeding season in N of range; elsewhere probably related to rains; laying Jun–... read more


Local resident. No indication of migration, but birds may turn up as accidentals outside normal... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Like other members of family, rarely observed so numbers unknown. Wide distribution, with apparently low population density. Suitable... read more

Recommended citation

Bertram, B.C.R. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Sungrebe (Heliornis fulica). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 3 April 2020).