For bird watching, Sri Lanka is the best country in the world
For bird watching, Sri Lanka is the best country in the world for it is indeed a birds’ paradise. You could view birds throughout the year because of its favourable climatic conditions being a tropical island and throughout the country in forests, jungles, lakes lagoons, streams, villas etc..
Little Green Bee eater
Out of a total of about 450 species of birds, nearly 250 are resident and 23 are endemic of which the majority are found in the lowland wet zone and the rainforests of the hill country and others are migratory. According to the booklet recently published by one of Sri Lankans leading wild life companies there are 33 birds endemic to the country. Most of the endemic birds could be viewed at Sinharaja rain forests Horton plains National park and in the peal wilderness sanctuary.
Quite a number of species of birds about 150 or so are migrants from the Temperate zone. They come during the Northern winter and some even from areas as North as Siberia. Bundala in the south, 246 sq kms South east of Colombo is very famous for migratory birds especially flocks of flamingo in the jungle and in the scrubland. Thus Bundala is a paradise for Birds watchers and this area seems to be the Southern most point of bird migration. Lagoons and swampy marshes found here are really the safe places for birds for feeding and nesting. These migratory birds such as flamingo, Heroes, Storks etc are creating a colourful blend in the environs of Bundala. This is close to Kataragama and could be reaches along the coastline from Colombo.
Sinharaja rain forests is the peal wilderness sanctuary for bird watching in Sri Lanka
There are special locations famous for bird watching in Sri Lanka. Firstly, the Sinharaja forest reserve in the Sabaragamuwa province and consisting parts of the districts of Galle, Matara and Ratnapura. From the bio-diversity and climatic conditions prevailing here, it had been become one of the best areas for bird life. There is such an abundance and variety of birds here, you would not be able to discover all the secrets of these elegant erotic creatures even for a life time. Large number of endemic birds have made their home here like the SL Jungle Fowl (Lanka Valikaluwa), Black-crested Bulbul ( Kalu kondaya), SL Whistling Thrush (Lanka Arongaya), SL White –eye (Lanka Sithasiya), SL Blue Magpie (Lanka Kahibella), Ashy – headed laughing thrush (Aludemalicca), Red faced malkoha (Vata Kalu Malkoha), SL Housing Parrot (Lanka Goiramallitha), SL Spur fowl (Lanka Haban kukula) etc.
This area declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1988 and as required bio-diversity, this is the most important site for bird watching in Sri Lanka and there is still undisturbed natural primary forest tracks. You could reach Sinharaja from Colombo through Ratnapura or from Galle, Matara and through Deniyaya.
Many beautiful places to watch best Birds in the world
Other interesting locations in the South to view these beautiful birds are the Yala Sanctuary, Lahugala (Bundala), Kalametiya, Wirawila, Kumana, Uda Walawe and the two tanks Tissamahara and Deberawewa. Out of these, Karapitiya, Bundala, Wirawila etc consist of salty lagoons, mangrove swamps and open parkland with intermittent scrub jungle and as such are favourable spots for those birds. Egrets, white Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Green Shank are some of the bird – life associated with these. Tissa & Debana tanks depending on the level of water as they are in the Arid zone of Sri Lanka you could yet view some of the birds as the purple loot ‘Painted’ stork, Little Cormorant, Purple heron etc during the short rainy season Nov – Feb.
Yala and Lahugala are two other very good areas for bird watchers; Yala 309 kms from Colombo extends to an area of 1260 sq kms and share the Northern boundary with Lahugala elephant sanctuary. Dense jungle & open parklands a major hypes of vegetation here. The whole area consists of water – hole, small lakes, lagoons, house to a variety of birds. This is the only reliable place to view the endangered black Necked stork. Sri-Lanka’s largest bird as marshy swamps and lakes. Some of the other birds present here are the Bittern families of shos birds, Brown – capped babbler (Green bee – eater) etc.
Lahugala, to the North East of Yala, an elephant corridor is famous for a variety of bird life inclusive of the migrants especially in the forested areas and in villas. Aquatic birds such as Damil kitala, Pasthuduwa, Karawel koka, Indian Diya Kawa, Sudu Maha Koka, and more associated forested areas such as Muhudu Wevu Eagle, Pilihuduwa, Wana rathu mal koha, Wali kukula etc.
Kalanitiya birds habitant in the Southern Province is to the north of Bundala, consist of two salty lagoons, mangrove swamps and open parklands with intermittent scrub jungle and is an important site for shore birds.
Uda Walawe National Park is quite accessible and also family friendly and jeep safaris enable you to seek out the species of birds in the forested areas, open parklands with Mana grass (a favourite food of the elephants) all over – Oriole, Egrets, Robins, Wagtails, Babblers, Black capped purple King fisher, Crested Serpent Eagle, White bellied sea Eagle and the most beautiful bird in the world., the Majestic Peacock which you could find in plenty and seems to be quit fame.
In the central province, Royal Botanical Gardens at Hakgala (Nuwara Eliya), which had been a royal pleasure garden of a Sinhala king and later improved & extended by the British., is favourite by bio – diversity to create favourable habitants for birds such as Magpie Robin, Black headed Oriole, and about a very few endemic birds – Hanging Parrot and Layard Para beet.
Hoton plains National Park, Nuwara Eliya, a wind swept area expanse of marshy grassland with thin scraggy trees here & there and rivers etc, is the house for the Black throated Mumia, Orange – billed Babbler, Sri Lankan Whistling Thrash and Yellow eared Bulbar. Worlds end, which is considered to be the finest view in Sri Lanka could be visited and enjoy the serene beauty of the area. The precipitous escapement goes down to about 4000’ below.
In Kandy, the Udawatte kale forest reserve close to the temple of the Tooth- relic is a rainforest rich in species that have enjoyed protection from the past. Many species of bird life found here are the Blue- winged leaf birds, Oriental Dwait Kingfisher, Layard Para beet etc. You could also make a tour in the city of Kandy and along the Kandy Lake, and which is the last bastion of the Sinhala kings and which is famous for the most colourful pageant of the temple of the Tooth taking place in July every year.
Excellent bird watching site in Sri Lanka, at the Northern end of the Kurunegala range
Excellent bird watching site, at the Northern end of the Kurunegala range and the in the Northern central Province is Kandalama in Dambulla. The envious of the 55 acre forest around the Kandalama Tank, Hotels and the Cricket ground is rich in bird life and one of the best bird watching locations in the North central province. The visitors will get an opportunity to view the birds around the hotels and there are more than 140 species here living in trees (arboreal) on the ground (terrestrial) and water (aquatic) inclusive of the 4 endemic birds Sri Lanka Spur Fowl, Sri Lanka jungle Fowl, Sri Lankan Green Hora Bill, and Brow capped Babbler.
Many aquatic birds such as Lesser whistling Duck, purple Swamphen, White prested Water hen, whiskered Tera, Pin tailed snipe and Little green heron. Others common birds like Brahmin kile and Marsh harrier could also be observed.
Sigiriya Lion Rock, a world famous heritage site is the palatial Rock fortress of the daring Sinhala king, Kasyapa V of the (5th AD). This rises to about 200 metres from the scrub jungle around and had been the innermost stronghold of the fortified town, at the base of which are the ruins of roads, rampart, extensive gardens etc., which circle the rock base. This is an ideal location to watch birds like the Orange breasted green Pigeon, Woolly necked stork, Black headed babul, Emerald Dove etc.
In the low country fresh water marshes such as the Muthurajawela close to the air port and Bellanwila – Attidiya just south of Colombo are famous for an abundance of bird life for these urban wetland consist of marshes, natural and man made canals. You could take a walk along the edge of the swamps or canals and have a good look at the birds like Pied Kingfisher and migrant birds too visit these marshes.
Dry zone lowland tanks are shallow and manmade in the past during the reign of Sinhala kings and these formed very favourable habitant for birds like the Little egret, Cattle egret, Peasant tailed jacna etc. There are good habitants for migrating shore birds such as the migratory Tree wasblers, Thrushes, Cockoos etc., which could be seen in the forest area nearby. Large reservoirs in the Dry zone are sought after by the different species of Ducks, terns and Herons.
A remarkable bird in Sri Lanka is the seven sister birds with a remarkable feature of going about in groups of seven when one is present somewhere another 6 could be found in an immediate neighbourhood. This seems to be a kind of a social group, same kind of bird flocking in sevens which seems to be a rare phoneme in birds all over the world – may be the "polkichcha".
Whilst Sri Lanka holds good numbers of easy-to-see waterbirds & raptors amongst others it is the endemic birds which prove the greatest attraction to visiting birders and clearly Sri Lanka is an avian biodiversity hot spot –but just how many Sri Lankan endemics are there?
Some authorities recognise 24 species, some 26 & others 33. The 24 for which there seems little dispute are:
Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Layard’s Parakeet, Red-faced Malkoha, Green-billed Coucal, Serendib Scops Owl, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, Spot-winged Thrush, Brown-capped Babbler, Orange-billed Babbler, Ashy-headed Laughingthrush, Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, Dull blue Flycatcher, White-throated Flowerpecker, Sri Lanka White-eye, Sri Lanka Magpie, Sri Lanka Myna, White-faced Starling