Forest Bittern (Zonerodius heliosylus)

Forest Bittern

[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Ardeidae | [latin] Zonerodius heliosylus | [authority] Lesson, 1828 | [UK] Forest Bittern | [FR] Onore phaeton | [DE] Bindenreiher | [ES] Avetigre Papua | [NL] Nieuwguinese Tijgerroerdomp


Monotypic species


The Forest Bittern, Zonerodius heliosylus, is a bird indigenous to Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. It is the only member of the genus Zonerodius and is also known as the New Guinea Tiger Heron.

Physical charateristics

The crown is black. The bill is relatively long, at 90 mm, the longest of all the tiger herons. The upper bill is black; the lower bill, ashy grey. The chin is white buff. The irises are yellow and the lores and orbital skin are sulfur yellow. The sides of the head and neck are barred in brown and light buff. The back and the upper wing are dark brown with fine buff lines. The rump and lower back are white with dusky tipped feathers. The under parts are buff to white with the feathers of the upper breast tend to fall over the belly like a bib or pinafore (Iredale 1956). The legs are described as lemon yellow, with the back of the tarsus washed with dusky brown. The females are slightly smaller than males. It is reported that the bill of the female has a pearl green tinge below, the lores and orbital skin have a greener tinge, and the legs are more uniform greenish-yellow. More information on this and other attributed sexual differences are needed.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 65 cm size max.: 71 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
      eggs max.: 0  


Australasia : New Guinea. Zonerodius heliosylus occurs throughout New Guinea (Papua, formerly Irian Jaya, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea) and on the adjacent islands of Salawati and Aru, Indonesia. There are very few recent records and it is such a reclusive species that it is impossible to assess its true population


It frequents streams, pools and swamps in forest to 1,430 m


Hardly any data, one nest contained one chick. Stick and twig nest was built 12 meter up a tree beside a stream.

Feeding habits

Forages alone alone water edged in forests. Diet consists of fish, crabs, snakes, crustaceans and beetles.


This species qualifies as Near Threatened because it has a moderately small population which is thought to be undergoing a moderate decline owing to habitat degradation.
Forest Bittern status Near Threatened


Sedentary throughout range,

Distribution map

Forest Bittern distribution range map

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