Sri Lanka’s Top 31 Endemic Birds | Part 01

Endemic Birds in Sri Lanka

Ceylon Avifauna

Here is how you can spot them around the country.

There are 33 endemic birds that were identified, out of 234 top Sri Lankan birds. A few permanent birds have a wide range. About 209 birds are reported as migratory. Most of them move to Sri Lanka during the winter period of their residing countries. Therefore, they can be seen mostly around the period of August to April every year.

Pelagic birds, such as shearwaters, petrels, and storm-petrels, migrate to the Sri Lankan coastal area over the seas during their winter period. On a regular basis, over 120 species of migratory birds visit Sri Lanka. Other birds are irregular visitors or other migratory birds.

Some birds are confined to the country’s wet or dry zones, depending on the climate zone. Endemism is typically prevalent in the wet zone. Height also influences bird distribution, with certain species only found in the low country wet zone and others in the montane wet zone. Sri Lanka is home to nearly 82 bird families.

Table of Contents

How many endemics exist?

There is no consensus on the number of bird species found in Ceylon. There are presently 33 known endemic bird species, with the majority discovered in the wet zone. November to April is believed to be excellent for seeing the bulk of these endemics. Many of these endemic species may be found in the Kithulgala or Sinharaja forests in the lowlands. In the highlands, the finest site to visit is Horton Plains National Park. observe endemics that flourish at high altitudes.

01. Ceylon Spurfowl-(Galloperdix Bicalcarata) Forster, 1781.

Family: Phasianidae

How you can identify them?

First endemic bird is the Ceylon Spurfowl is a rare species of ground creature that can be found in the deepest, forest areas in Sri Lanka. They can commonly found in the wet district, but can be seen up on the high ground at an elevation of more than 2000 m. Most of the time, they can be seen in couples or individual.

Where can you see them ?

  • Kitulgala
  • Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Ceylon Spurfowl - Galloperdix Bicalcarata
Ceylon Spurfowl – Galloperdix Bicalcarata

02. Ceylon Junglefowl-(Gallus Lafayettii) Lesson, 1831.

Family: Phasianidae

How you can identify them?

The Ceylon Junglefowl is a ground bird can be found anywhere from the high ground to the sea level in Sri Lanka, depending on the climate. It can be seen like a domestic chicken in areas closer to woods.

Where can you see them ?

  • Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Ceylon Junglefowl - Gallus Lafayettii
Ceylon Junglefowl – Gallus Lafayettii 

03. Ceylon Woodpigeon-(Columba Torringtonii) Blyth & Kelaart, 1853.

Family: Columbidae

How you can identify them?

The Ceylon woodpigeon can be seen during the rainy season in Sri Lanka. Spends most of his time in the canopy, never afraid to eat on the ground. Normally they live in groups of two or three.

Where can you see them ?

  • Horton Plains National Park
  • Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Ceylon Woodpigeon - Columba Torringtonii
Ceylon Woodpigeon – Columba Torringtonii

04. Ceylon Green Pigeon-(Treron Pompadora)

Family: Columbidae

How can you identify them?

The Ceylon Green Pigeon is a small pigeon. They can be seen in entire low region and reaching elevations of 1000 m or higher forests, thickly wooded farms, and on private property. They live in small groups mostly.

Where can you see them ?

  • Kitulgala
  • Sinharaja Forest Reserve
  • Udawalawe National Park.
Ceylon Green-pigeon - Treron Pompadora
Ceylon Green-pigeon – Treron Pompadora

05. Ceylon Hanging-parrot-(Loriculus Beryllinus) Froster, 1781

Family: Psittacidae

How can you identify them?

The Ceylon Hanging-parrot can be found in high-elevation areas up to 1300 m. They have a short tail. Can be found in woodlands and gardens around the country. They live as couples, groups, or alone.

Where can you see them ?

  • Kitulgala
  • Kandy
  • Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Ceylon Hanging-parrot - Loriculus Beryllinus
Ceylon Hanging-parrot – Loriculus Beryllinus

06. Layard’s Parakeet-(Psittacula Calthropae) Blyth, 1849

Family: Psittacidae

How can you identify them?

The Layard’s Parakeet bird can be found in high-elevation to dry zones in Sri Lanka and surrounding hills. They live as couples or in small groups.

Where can you see them ?

  • Sinharaja Forest Reserve
  • Kandy
  • Kitulgala
Layard’s Parakeet - Psittacula Calthropae
Layard’s Parakeet – Psittacula Calthropae

07. Green-Billed Coucal-(Centropus Chlororhynchos) Blyth, 1849

Family: Cuculidae

How can you identify them?

The Green-Billed Coucal is smaller than the other common greater coucal bird. They can be seen in residential areas near forests. They live as two-person groups.

Where can you see them ?

  • Sinharaja Forest Reserve
  • Kitulgala
Green-Billed Coucal - Centropus Chlororhynchos
Green-Billed Coucal – Centropus Chlororhynchos

08. Red-faced Malkoha-(Phaenicophaeus Pyrrhocephalus) Pennant, 1769

Family: Cuculidae

How can you identify them?

The red-faced Malkoha is another forest resident bird. They are mostly found in wet zone forests, with a few tall riverside woodlands as their habitats. They live as two or three couples.

Where can you see them ?

  • Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Red-faced Malkoha - Phaenicophaeus Pyrrhocephalus
Red-faced Malkoha – Phaenicophaeus Pyrrhocephalus

09. Serendib Scops owl (Otus Thilohoffmanni) Warakagoda & Rasmussen, 2004.

Family: Strigidae

How can you identify them?

The Serendib Scops owl has a short tail. They have only been detected in the south and western rain forests of Sri Lanka and are quite rare to spot.

Where can you see them ?

  • Kitulgala
  • Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Serendib Scops owl - Otus Thilohoffmanni
Serendib Scops owl – Otus Thilohoffmanni

10. Chestnut Backed Owlet-(Glaucidium Castanonotum) Blyth , 1846

Family: Strigidae

How can you identify them?

The Chestnut-backed owlet is a small owl with a brownish back. They live as a couple. They enter human residences without reluctance, sometimes to reproduce.

Where can you see them ?

  • Kitulgala
  • Dombagaskanda
  • Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Chestnut Backed Owlet-Glaucidium Castanonotum
Chestnut Backed Owlet-Glaucidium Castanonotum

11. Ceylon Grey Hornbill-(Ocyceros Gingalensis) Shaw , 1811

Family: Bucerotidae

How can you identify them?

The Ceylon Grey Hornbill is the smaller hornbill of Sri Lanka. They are commonly seen in lowland forests and both wet and dry zones. They live in groups of two or three.

Where can you see them ?

  • Kitulgala
Ceylon Grey Hornbill-Ocyceros Gingalensis
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill-Ocyceros Gingalensis

12. Yellow-Fronted Barbet-(Megalaima flavifrons) Cuvier, 1816

Family: Megalaimidae

How can you identify them?

The Yellow-Fronted Barbet is a lovely barbet and one of Sri Lanka’s most frequent native birds. They prefer thick woodlands and enjoy woody home gardens. The sound of them may be heard for quite some distance.

Where can you see them ?

  • Sinharaja Forest Reserve
  • Udawatta Kele-Kandy
Yellow-Fronted Barbet - Megalaima flavifrons
Yellow-Fronted Barbet – Megalaima flavifrons

13. Ceylon Small Barbet-(Megalaima Rubricapillus)

Family: Megalaimidae

How can you identify them?

This is the lone barbet that comes to the home gardens in Sri Lanka. described as having green belly flanks, a bluish head, and orange and yellow eye rings.

Where can you see them ?

  • dry zone
  • wet zone 1000 m.
Ceylon Small Barbet - Megalaima Rubricapillus
Ceylon Small Barbet – Megalaima Rubricapillus

14. Crimson-backed Flameback-(Chrysocolaptes Stricklandi) Layard, 1854

Family: Picidae

How can you identify them?

The Crimson-backed Flameback is a woodpecker that is almost the same size as the more common black-rumped flameback, although it seems significantly bigger. It differs from black-rumped flameback by having a red back on their wings, a longer ivory color break, and a peculiar call tone.

Where can you see them ?

  • They can be found anywhere in Sri Lanka.
Crimson-backed Flameback - Chrysocolaptes Stricklandi
Crimson-backed Flameback – Chrysocolaptes Stricklandi

15. Ceylon Swallow-(Hirundo Hyperythra) Blyth, 1849

Family: Hirundinidae

How can you identify them?

  • The Ceylon Swallow looks bigger than the other swallows in Sri Lanka. They can be found from sea level to 1300 m in height. They live as a group of two.
Ceylon Swallow - Hirundo Hyperythra
Ceylon Swallow – Hirundo Hyperythra

16. Ceylon Woodshrike-(Tephrodornis Affinis) Blyth, 1847

Family: Vangidae

How can you identify them?

The Ceylon Woodshrike is a little grey bird. They live as a couple, and the female bird is darker and browner than the male bird.

Where can you see them ?

  • up to 1000 m in the hills
  • dry zone
Ceylon Woodshrike - Tephrodornis Affinis
Ceylon Woodshrike – Tephrodornis Affinis

17. Black-Capped Bulbul-(Pycnonotus Melanicterus

Family: Pycnonotidae

How can you identify them?

The Black-Capped Bulbul’s upperparts are olive green; the tail is brown. The underwing is yellow, while the flight feathers are brown. The male bird’s iris is red and the female bird’s iris is brown. They live as a couple or small group.

Where can you see them ?

  • lowlands
  • hills, elevations of 1300 m.
Black-Capped Bulbul - Pycnonotus Melanicterus
Black-Capped Bulbul – Pycnonotus Melanicterus 

18. Yellow-Eared Bulbul-(Pycnonotus penicillatus) Blyth, 1851

Family: Pycnonotidae

How can you identify them?

The Yellow-eared Bulbul lives at high elevations of over 1300 m in Sri Lanka. They are one of the common birds on the hillside. They have a clear head pattern and long yellow ear tufts. The Yellow-eared Bulbul live as couples or in small groups.

Where can you see them ?

  • Nuwara Eliya
  • Horton Plains National Park
Yellow-Eared Bulbul - Pycnonotus Penicillatus
Yellow-Eared Bulbul-Pycnonotus Penicillatus

References:


Read More:

Bird Families in Sri Lanka – Wild Lanka

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