Bird Watching

The bird life of Sri Lanka is very rich for its size and about 433 species have been recorded. In addition to the many resident birds, a considerable number of migratory species winter in the country to escape their northern breeding grounds.

There are 452 species which are resident, of which 33 are endemic. The other resident species are also found in the nearby Indian mainland, but over 80 have developed distinct Sri Lankan races. Some of these races are very different in their plumage characteristics from the related forms in India.

Bird distribution in Sri Lanka is largely determined by its climatic zones. The dry zone is largest of the three, covering more than half of the island, with a prolonged dry and hot period and only one monsoon (the north east monsoon from October to January).

The wet zone, with two monsoons, is in the south western quarter of the island, where the few remaining rain forests are found and humidity is high.

The central hill zone rises to over 2450 m (8-10,000 ft) and has a cool temperate climate. Most of the 26 endemic species are confined to the wet and the hill zones, with only a few extending into the dry zone as well.

Birder’s paradise, Bundala National Park located in the Southern Province. It was declared a National Park of Sri Lanka, in 1993 and was the first RAMSAR site in Sri Lanka. In the year of 2005, UNESCO named it as a biosphere reserve. The wealth of brackish water lagoons have lead many migratory birds from across the ocean to visit this national park. During the season between November to January, Greater Flamingos can be spotted here. (Recent numbers suggest that close to 1000 plus birds have been seen at Bundala at a given time). Including the flamingos, the Bundala National Park hosts approximately 197 species of birds.

Some of the other birds seen at the park include cormorants, grey herons, waterfowls, painted storks, Eurasian spoonbills and black-necked storks.

Located approximately three hours away from the capital city, Sinharaja Forest Reserve is home to various bird species including 20 endemic birds. Some of the species spotted here include green-billed coucal, Sri Lanka wood pigeon, Sri Lanka white-headed starling, ashy-headed babbler, Sri Lanka blue magpie, Sri Lanka broad-billed roller, the elusive red-faced malkoha and jungle fowl.

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