An overview of some of the special birds only found in Sri Lanka
On a recent wildlife and culture trip to Sri Lanka I was fortunate enough to see over 200 bird species, including 31 of the 34 endemics, i.e. those species only found in Sri Lanka. It was a fascinating country to visit and I am adding photos from the trip to my Asia Gallery, including two galleries covering many of the birds I managed to see. This Blog covers those endemic species I managed to photograph, which hopefully you will find interesting. Many of the endemic species are doing well, although there is a constant threat to several species, primarily due to specialised habitat loss and a relatively small distribution area.
Sri Lanka Junglefowl (Gallus lafeyetii)
I will start with Sri Lanka's national bird, the Sri Lanka Junglefowl. It is closely related to the red junglefowl found in India/Bangladesh, from which the chicken was domesticated. It is found throughout Sri lanka and is classified as 'least concern'.
Female and chick
Sri Lanka Blue Magpie (Urocissa ornata)
This is one the most distinctive Sri Lanka endemics and regularly appears first in website search engines. It has stunning plumage and primarily inhabits tall, undisturbed forest in the mountains, foothills, and adjoining lowlands of the southern wet zone. It is classified as 'vulnerable'.
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis)
This is a small hornbill with no casque on its upper bill. It is found in pairs and groups in forest and woodland, preferring drier areas. It is classified as 'least concern'.
Orange-billed Babbler (Argya rufescens)
This babbler is a rainforest specialist living together in small flocks, and it is seldom seen away from deep jungle. It occurs in all the forests of the wet zone. Although its habitat is under threat it is quite common at prime sites like Kitulgala and Sinharaja. It is classified as 'near threatened'.
Yellow-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus penicillatus)
This is a bird of higher elevation jungle and wooded farmland. Despite its restricted range in central Sri Lanka, it is quite readily found at sites such as Horton Plains, and Victoria Park in Nuwara Eliya. It is classified as 'least concern'.
Sri Lanka Spurfowl (Galloperdix bicalcarata)
This spurfowl is a member of the pheasant family which is restricted to dense rainforests. It is a very secretive bird, which searches amongst the leaf litter of the forest floor for invertebrates. It will also take various seeds, fallen fruit and spiders. It is classified as 'least concern'.
Chestnut-backed Owlet (Glaucidium castanotum)
This attractive small owl is a resident bird in the wet zone forests of Sri Lanka. Although locally common, in recent times its range has shrunk greatly, and it is now found sparingly in the remaining forests of the wet zone and the adjoining hills. It is classified as 'near threatened'.
Sri Lanka Green Pigeon (Treron pompadora)
This is one of several green pigeon species. It has a wide range in Sri Lanka and is classified as 'least concern'.
Dull-blue Flycatcher (Eumyias sordidus)
An unfortunate name for this stunning small flycatcher which is far from being dull. It breeds in the central hills and mountains, where it occurs as singles and pairs in the understory of dense, wet montane forest. It is classified as 'near threatened'.
Ashy-headed Laughingthrush (Argya cinereifrons)
The habitat for this laughingthrush is rainforest, and it is seldom seen away from deep jungle or dense bamboo thickets in the wet zone. Although its habitat is under threat, it occurs in all the forests of the wet zone, and is quite common at prime sites like Kitulgala and Sinharaja. It is classified as 'vulnerable'.
Sri Lanka White-eye (Zosterops ceylonensis)
This small passerine is a resident breeder in forests, gardens and plantations, mainly in the highlands, where it tends to replace the more widely distributed Indian white-eye. It is classified as 'least concern'.
Sri Lanka Scaly Thrush (Zoothera imbricata)
This bird is a very secretive, terrestrial thrush that frequents the understory of wet forests of lowlands and mountains. Most often encountered in the foothills, foraging along forest tracks. It is classified as 'near threatened'.
Spot-winged Thrush (Geokichla spiloptera)
This uncommon species breeds in hill rainforests, and to a lesser extent in drier woodlands, typically at higher altitudes. It is generally solitary and can be quite secretive, especially in the dense undergrowth and bamboo clumps it favours. It is classified as 'near threatened'.
Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot (Loriculus beryllinus)
The Sri Lanka hanging parrot is a bird of open forest. It is strictly arboreal, never descending to the ground, and can often be seen hanging upside down trying to get to seeds and berries. Typically found in ones or twos in the canopy of forests in the southern wet zone, but also wooded areas outside of that zone. It is classified as 'least concern'.
Sri Lanka Swallow (Cecropis hyperythra)
is a large swallow with a tail which forks deeply, and the combination of deep rufous underside and navy blue rump without any marks is a unique feature of this species. It is found in a variety of open country habitats in both the lowlands and foothills in Sri Lanka, including farm fields and lightly wooded areas. It is classified as 'least concern'.
Sri Lanka Red-backed Woodpecker (Dinopium psarodes)
This is one of the three species of red coloured 'flamebacks' found in Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, and subtropical or tropical mangrove forests, including manmade environments like home gardens. It is the commonest woodpecker species in Sri Lanka and it is classified as 'least concern'.
Yellow-fronted Barbet (Psilopogon flavifrons)
This attractive barbet inhabits subtropical and tropical moist forests, wetlands, plantations and rural gardens up to an altitude of 2,000 m. It is classified as 'least concern'.
As mentioned in the introduction to this Blog there are many more photos of Sri Lanka bird species in the two sub-galleries in my Asia Gallery if you are interested 😊