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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Endemic Birds of Sri Lanka – Exploring Sri Lanka's Diverse Bird Life
Joanna James Joanna James
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Endemic Birds of Sri Lanka – Exploring Sri Lanka's Diverse Bird Life

Sri Lanka is well stocked when it comes to bird watching. The country has over four hundred and ninety-two birds out of which twenty-six are endemic. Here we take a look at the most popular of them.


Sri Lanka Spurfowl

Quite an elusive bird, it is commonly heard but rarely seen. It is hard to miss their distinctive early morning cawing but because the Sri Lankan Spurfowl moves constantly and is an excellent ventriloquist, it is quite difficult to pinpoint their exact location. The bird grows to almost the size of a domestic chicken and is a ground-based bird. The male version of the bird is darker coloured and has a glossy black coat compared to the pale brown associated with the females. Their breeding season commences from November until April and from July to August. Although they build their nests on the ground, they are well concealed dug beneath stones or bushes.


Sri Lankan Junglefowl

One of the most commonly seen birds in the country, the Sri Lankan junglefowl is also present all over the country; both in urban areas as well as rural areas. However, the Wilpathu National Park is the best place to get a look at this bird. Easily distinguishable by its vibrant red and yellow shadings, the male junglefowl has a raucous cry that can be heard from a long way away. If you are in the Dambulla area, you can ask any hotel such as Heritance Kandalama to organize a bird watching tour as its one of the top things to do in Dambulla. Although the Sri Lankan Junglefowl can fly, they opt to stay on the ground unless threatened.


Sri Lankan Wood Pigeon

The key distinctive features of this bird are its grey wings, brownish underbelly and checkered pattern on their necks. The bird generally frequents mountainous areas – around one thousand six hundred and fifty meters above sea level – but can be seen at lower altitudes, albeit rarely. They prefer forested areas and the top places to see them are the forests around Nuwara Eliya. The Sri Lankan Wood Pigeon has a reputation for being quite shy and is generally found in couples unless they are feeding.


Red-faced Malkoha

One of the most inhibited birds on this list, the Red-faced Malkoha occupy the canopy of forests and rarely ever flits down below. Unless when feeding, they always retreat to the safety of the trees, making it quite a challenge for bird watchers hungry for a peek at the colourful bird. They usually move in groups of three to four and feed on fruits and insects. The Red-faced Malkoha can be identified by its vividly red face and its long white-tipped tail.


Serendib Scops Owl

The Serendib Scops Owl has a call that is eerily similar to the forest frog, part of the reason why it was never identified till as recently as 2004. The bird is present in the lower country wet zone areas and hides inside dense foliage during the day. There is not much information present on the bird for now.