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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Joanna James Joanna James
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Popular Birds of Yala – A Sanctuary for Exotic Wildlife

Yala is Sri Lanka's most popular wildlife sanctuary; located along the southeast coast the place is packed with all manner of creatures. Birds consist of over 215 species amongst which 7 are endemic.


Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill

Belonging to the Hornbill family this feathered beauty is called Ocyceros gingalensis. It is an endemic bird to Sri Lanka and is quite widespread. It prefers forested habitats and is a social bird that feeds on figs mostly with an exception for small reptiles, rodents and insects. A female bird will lay up to four eggs at a time that are white in colour. The nest is always within a tree hollow that is blocked off during the incubation period. A mixture of mud, fruit pulp and droppings are used to create this cement; a miniature hole just wide enough for the male to pass food to the female inside is left. The Grey Hornbill of Sri Lanka is fairly large measuring at 45cms. The markings are denoted by grey wings and black primary feathers, a brown crown and grey back with a curved bill.


Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl

The Jungle Fowl is the country's national bird; known as Gallus Lafayetti it is also referred to as the Ceylon Jungle fowl. Belonging to the Galiformes bird species that's endemic to Sri Lanka this bird is related to the red jungle fowl from which the domesticated chicken was derived. The male of the species bears a more striking plumage of an orange body and blackish to dark purple tail and wings; this is in addition to the amplified comb and wattle. A male bird will measure at 66 to 72cms and looks very similar to a large well-muscled rooster. Sitting on your veranda at UGA Chena Huts it is not uncommon to spot this bird proudly strutting between the forest cover; after all it is a protected species and seems to be well aware of it. The female bird is smaller measuring at 35cms with a rather dull brownish plumage and white markings on the front body.


Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon

The Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon or Columba torringtoniae is a bird that prefers damp woodlands and lays just one white egg is a stick nest built in trees. During mating season the bird lets out an owl like 'hoo' and is otherwise silent with twitchy flight patterns common to pigeons. It is 36cms in length with dark green tail and underside. The head and area below is slightly lilac in colour and tapers off to a rather dull tone. The most distinctive feature is the black and white checkerboard like marking around its neck.


Crimson Fronted Barbet

This is an Asian barbet that is endemic to the country. Also called Ceylon Small Barbet this bird is related to the Malabar Barbet of Western Ghats in India. Laying about 2 to four eggs at a time this species survives on fruit and small insects. A small bird at 15cms the Ceylon barbet has a large head, short neck and short tail and is mainly green in colour.


Blue Tailed Bee Eater

Another reason for bird watching being a favourite thing to do in Yala, the Blue Tailed Bee Eater is a beautiful slender bird with a rich colourful plumage. Mostly green in colour the birds face has a blue patch and striking black eye stripe. Feeding on mostly bee's, small insects such as dragonfly's and wasps this bird often nests in open sand banks with both male and female caring for the eggs.

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