Birding Factoids

407 species in
62 families

 23 endemic species plus
17 species shared only
with India
13 endangered species
9 speciality species
2 week trip expectation -
about 220-250 species

    Sri Lanka
Checklist of Sri Lanka BirdsTours and GuidesEco-LodgesSpeciality BirdsMap and General Information
Check out Wim van der Schot's Birds of Sri Lanka website!
Up-to-date wildlife news and trip reports can be viewed on
the on-line message board on this site.
Sri Lanka Specialities
Painted Stork - Photo copyright Hans Martens
Photo copyright Hans Martens
Dull-blue Flycatcher - Photo copyright Wim van der Schot
Photo copyright Wim van der Schot..
Common Myna - Photo copyright Gaby Schulemann
Photo copyright Gaby Schulemann
Blue-faced Malkoha - Photo copyright Christian Malkoha
Photo copyright Christian Artuso
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill - Photo copyright Wim van der Schot
Photo copyright Wim van der Schot.
Barred Button-Quail - Photo copyright R. S. Suresh
Photo copyright R. S. Suresh
House Crow - Photo copyright Gaby Schulemann
Photo copyright Gaby Schulemann

Sri Lankan Junglefowl - Photo copyright Dave Behrens

Photo copyright Dave Behrens
White-rumped Munia - Photo copyright David Massie
Photo copyright David Massie
Yellow-eared Bulbul - Photo copyright Wim van der Schot
Photo copyright Wim van der Schot.
Black Baza - Photo copyright Lawrence Poh
Photo copyright Lawrence Poh
    ....A Birdwatcher's Guide to Sri Lanka - by Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne,
      Lester Perera, Jeevan William, Deepal Warakagoda and Nirma de Silva Wijeyeratne, from OBC Bulletin 26, November 1997. OBC Bulletin 26 includes a 24 page supplement, the Birdwatcher's Guide to Sri Lanka, which describes 20 key sites. The section for one of those sites, Sinharaja, is presented here on-line. 
    ....Guide to Sri Lanka Nature Reserves - One of the most alluring
      attractions which bring travelers to Sri Lanka, is its natural heritage. There are enough national parks and reserves to merit a book on them. This site gives an outline of some of the most important of these wild areas.
    ....Watching seabirds on the West Coast of Sri Lanka
      by Rex I. De Silva, from OBC Bulletin 26, November 1997.  Although the majority of birders visiting Sri Lanka concentrate on searching for the endemic species, they overlook the fact that the west coast provides an opportunity for observing some truly exciting seabirds. 
    ....Sinharaja Forest Reserve - Located in southwest Sri Lanka, Sinharaja
      is the last viable area of primary tropical rainforest of the country. More than 60 per cent of the trees are endemic and many of them are considered rare. There is much endemic wildlife, especially birds, but the reserve is also home to 50 per cent of the endemic species of mammals and butterflies, as well as many kinds of insects, reptiles and rare amphibians.
    ....Yala National Park - by Dave Behrens. On a recent trip to Sri Lanka
      I had the opportunity for a one day visit Yala National Park (also known as Ruhunu National Park). All I can say is WOW! This is like a miniature African safari! The pictures shown are the results of only one day in the park. See also more photos from Dave's second trip to Yala.
    ....Muthurajawela Marshes - A Nature Lover's Delight
      by Marie-Celine Bastiansz.  The Pied Kingfisher is just one of several attractions at the Muthurajawela Wetland Conservation Project Visitors Centre a mere 40 minute drive from the City on the Colombo - Negombo Road and a couple of miles from the Bandaranaike International Airport. The centre was set up in an attempt to preserve in its present state some 7,000 hectares of wetland rich in plant and animal life. The project comprises large extents of marshland as well as the Negombo Lagoon.
    ....Sri Lanka - Directory of Wetlands of International Importance
      includes information on all Sri Lanka's Ramsar designated sites, including:
      • Bundala
    ....Trip Report: Sri Lanka 2003 -  by Simon Plat. An extensive trip report
      to Sri Lanka, including pictures and a section on how to find the endemics and other targets. Sri Lanka proved to be a top birding destination. All different types of birdwatchers will be able to find their likings here. The island has 27 endemic species, 15 of these with an endangered status. Over 15 species are shared only with the southern parts of India. For the specialist, over 60 subspecies are endemic, of which several might be split in the near future. These numbers are, in relation to the size of the island and the accessibility, among the highest of any single island in the world.
    ....Trip Report: Sri Lanka - March 1-15, 2002, by Joseph Thompson. 
      Sri Lanka has been a well-recognized birdwatcher’s paradise for many years, as evidenced by the many quality trip reports that are available. In my report, I would like to emphasize the advantages of including Bibile, a site not included on larger tours, and relate the extremely high quality of the local Sri Lankan guides whose services are available. Sri Lanka is an extremely beautiful country whose people are among the friendliest in the world. Travel in the birding areas, which are in the south and central portions of the country, is quite safe and is exceptionally hassle-free. 
    ....Trip Report: Sri Lanka - 25 March - 8 April 2001, by Mike Prince.
      This report describes a two-week visit to Sri Lanka in late winter/early spring 2001. We chose our own itinerary designed to give a good mixture of birding and general sightseeing. There are some fine wildlife viewing sites, which offer the chance of seeing the endemic subspecies of Asian Elephant as well as other mammals and birdlife.
      The island is a suitable size to cover adequately in two weeks (the out-of-bounds north containing little of general tourist interest anyway), the people are friendly, English is widely spoken and food and accommodation are both good and relatively cheap - overall Sri Lanka makes an ideal holiday destination. The aim was to visit the key birding sites, particularly for the endemics, and main other sites of general interest. 
    ....Trip Report: Sri Lanka - 27 January - 10 February 1999, 
      by John Martin. This report describes a trip to Sri Lanka made in early 1999. Sri Lanka has something like 26 endemic species (depending on whose taxonomy you follow) including some superb birds such as Red-faced Malkoha. Though we visited most of the major sites this was not a full on birding flog. We managed to see over 200 species including nearly all the endemics plus some good mammals and other wildlife and were well pleased with the trip. By dispensing with the beach days the manic lister could probably see all the endemics in two weeks.
    ....Trip Report: Sri Lanka. This trip report is provided courtesy of Urs ...
    ....Trip Report: Sri Lanka. This trip report is provided courtesy of Urs
      Geiser's Trip Report Archive July 23 - August 8, 1997 by Rohan van Twest. I have wanted to visit to Sri Lanka for some time to reacquaint myself with the birds of my youth and to introduce them to my children. After much deliberation we decided go on a family vacation in July-August. This is not an ideal time for birding in Sri Lanka, as the southwest monsoon usually brings heavy rains and there are no  passerine winter visitors to augment the resident bird species.
    ....Trip Report: Sri Lanka. This trip report is provided courtesy of Urs
      Bowman. October/November are amongst the wettest period of the year in the wet zone, but the advantage is that the hotels are mostly empty, and few tourists are encountered. 
    ....Trip Report: Sri Lanka - 25th January 2001 - 15th February 2001.
      By Andy & Isabel Senior. My wife Isabel, and myself, decided in May 2000 to arrange a tour of Sri Lanka. We've some experience of bird tours elsewhere, and were attracted to Sri Lanka for a number of reasons. Not least among these, was the list of Sri Lanka's endemic birds. Initial enquiries revealed a wide range of available tours, at a wide range of prices. 
    ....Trip Report: Sri Lanka. This trip report is provided courtesy of Urs
      Geiser's Trip Report Archive  December 1-20, 1997 by Chris Bowden & Angela Schmid. This is a brief account and checklist for a three week trip birding in Sri Lanka in December 1997. We used public transport, only hiring vehicles where there was no alternative within the two National Parks, stayed in hotels at the cheaper end of the spectrum, and used around five of the days on non-birding activities including planning etc. The birding is generally fairly easy, and we managed to see or hear all but one of the 21 endemics. 
    ....Trip Report: Sri Lanka, October 22-28, 2000, by Jeff Blincow. 
      There are several species that occur with a restricted range to South-west/Southern India and Sri Lanka (e.g. Sri Lanka Frogmouth). Sri Lanka also has a very high number of sub-species, and we made an effort to see these as well (we saw 45 out of 58). With the current volatile state of systematics it is prudent to insure against future splits. Only a few years ago there were 22 accepted endemics to Sri Lanka, and now there are 26. 
    ....Trip Report: Sri Lanka, December 2-17, 2000, by Clive Harris. 
      I recently spent just over 2 weeks in Sri Lanka. Most of this was work-related, running a conference at the Kandalama Hotel (near Dambulla) which is an excellent birding location (it was someone else's choice of venue!). I also managed a weekend away to go to the highlands and make a half day visit to Sinharaja Forest Reserve. 
    ....Trip Report: Sri Lanka, December 24, 2000 to January 8, 2001, 
      by  Jim Hackett. In the Christmas-New Year interval 2000-2001 my wife and I went to Sri Lanka for 14 full days. We did extremely well birdwise, thanks largely to the help of Upali Ekanayake, who is both a delightful guy and a Sri Lankan birder with 30 years field experience. 
    ....It's a Red-vented Bulbul, Stupid! - Two Weeks in Sri Lanka: the 
      Land of Temple and Tank. The  Scottish Ornithologists Club Ayrshire Branch, Easter Trip - 24th March 1999 - 7th April 1999. Author: Keith Martin. 
    ....Sri Lanka Trip Reports - you can find Sri Lanka trip reports on John
      Girdley's BirdTours website by following the Asia/Sri Lanka link from the main page.

    Factoids taken from Where to watch birds in Asia  - by Nigel Wheatley

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Tours and Guides

>>>>>> A Birding Pal is not a paid guide, but someone who likes to help out of town visitors. You can become a Birding Pal today! Help someone to enjoy your local birding spots and find a pal to help you when you travel. Click here for Sri Lankan Birding Pals, or join to be a Birding Pal!
Pheasant-tailed Jacana - Photo copyright Vijay Cavale
Photo copyright Vijay Cavale


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Endemics and Specialities

in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Frogmouth - Photo copyright Christian Artuso
Photo copyright Christian Artuso
Information on endemics and specialities is derived from Sibley & Monroe checklists and bird distribution lists in Thayer's Birder's Diary - Version 2.05, supplemented by material found in Where to watch birds in Asia  - by Nigel Wheatley. Asian speciality birds, while not endemic, are those that can only be found in three or less countries of Asia. Information on endangered birds is derived from the IUCN Red List, Birdlife International, and supporting data bases developed by Ian Patton, of Merlin Species Watcher.  The endemic, endangered and speciality birds may be uncommon, extremely rare vagrants, may be extirpated in the country now or may only be present in migration. However, documented sightings of each species noted below have been made in Sri Lanka. 
Sri Lanka Magpie - ENDANGERED - Photo copyright Trevor Quested
Photo copyright Trevor Quested

Endemics in Sri Lanka
___ Ashy-headed Laughingthrush
___ Brown-capped Babbler
___ Ceylon Bush-Warbler
___ Ceylon Grey Hornbill
___ Ceylon Hanging-Parrot
___ Ceylon Junglefowl
___ Ceylon Magpie
___ Ceylon Myna
___ Ceylon Spurfowl
___ Ceylon Whistling-Thrush
___ Ceylon White-eye
___ Ceylon Wood-Pigeon
___ Chestnut-backed Owlet
___ Dull-blue Flycatcher
___ Green-billed Coucal
___ Layard's Parakeet
___ Orange-billed Babbler
___ Red-faced Malkoha
___ Spot-winged Thrush
___ White-faced Starling
___ White-throated Flowerpecker
___ Yellow-eared Bulbul
___ Yellow-fronted Barbet
Endemics in Sri Lanka shared only with India
___ Black-throated Munia
___ Blue-faced Malkoha
___ Crimson-fronted Barbet
___ Dark-fronted Babbler
___ Hill Swallow
___ Indian Scimitar-Babbler
___ Indian Swiftlet
___ Jerdon's Nightjar
___ Jungle Bush-Quail
___ Long-billed Sunbird
___ Malabar Pied-Hornbill
___ Malabar Trogon
___ Painted Francolin
___ Sri Lanka Frogmouth
___ White-browed Bulbul
___ Yellow-billed Babbler
___ Yellow-browed Bulbul
Endangered Birds in Sri Lanka
(endemics are printed in bold italic)

Breeding Birds

Non-Breeding Birds

___ Ashy-headed Laughingthrush
___ Green-billed Coucal
___ Lesser Adjutant
___ Red-faced Malkoho
___ Spot-billed Pelican
___ Sri Lanka (Ceylon) Magpie
___ Sri Lanka Whistling-Thrush
___ Sri Lanka Wood-Pigeon
___ Kashmir Flycatcher
___ Nordmann's Greenshank
___ Sociable Lapwing
___ Spoonbill Sandpiper
___ Wood Snipe

Other Speciality and Near-endemic Birds in Sri Lanka
(adapted from Where to watch birds in Asia  - by Nigel Wheatley.)

___ Great Thick-knee
___ Indian Courser
___ Indian Pitta
___ Jungle Prinia
___ Pied Thrush
___ Purple-rumped Sunbird
___ Small Pratincole
___ White-bellied Drongo
___ White-naped Woodpecker

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