Sri Lanka can be considered as an Ornithologist’s paradise due to its abundance of bird life. A total of 444 birds have been recorded, of these 250 are resident and 33 species are endemic, and others are migrants. The mixed feeding flocks in Sinharaja rainforest (A UNESCO World Heritage Site), known as “Sinharaja Bird Waves”, are the largest in the world. The birds are also relatively tame and easy to watch.
Most of these endemic birds are restricted to the wet zone such as Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Ceylon Grackle, or to the hill country, such as the Ceylon Whistling Thrsh and the Yellow eared Barbul. Some such as the brilliantly plumaged Jungle Fowl, the striking Red-faced Malkoha and the shy Brown-capped Babbler can be found throughout the island in forests and sanctuaries. Among the best areas for sighting these birds are the Sinharaja Forest Reserve and the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary.
Around mid-August come the first flocks of the 169 species that winter here. Large flocks of sandpipers, stilts, plovers, tern and kites fly over from Siberia, Scandinavia and western Europe and settle along the lagoons and salterns of the eastern, north-western and south-eastern coasts. Migratory tree warblers, thrushes and koels can seen in the forested areas. The large tanks (irrigation reservoirs) in the dry zone attract numerous types of duck, while larger aquatic bird such as stork, heron, egret, spoonbill, pelican, ibis and hornbill can easily be seen in the sanctuaries, especially at Wirawila, Kalametiya and Bundala, the last named being famed for its large flocks of migrant flamingoes.
Some suggested birding tours:
Muthurajawela, Thalangama & Anavilundawa marshes and Bodhinagala forest Reserve (for Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Ceylon Hanging-parrot and if lucky, the scarce endemic Green-billed Coucal) are some places where you can view some lowland species. In Talangama Wetlands, close to Colombo you can watch common water birds that include Black and Yellow Bitterns. Lowland endemics and mixed species bird flocks can be seen in Sinharaja rain forest. Birding highlights in Sinharaja include Red-faced Malkoha, Serendib Scops Owl, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie and Scaly Thrush.
Horton Plains, Kithulgala and Nuwara Eliya are the best locations for highland varieties. Horton Plains National Park is famous for the endangered Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush and montane endemics and for Himalayan migrants can be observed at Victoria Garden, NuwaraEliya.
Kalametiya, Bundala & Kumana are some hotspots for dry zone and migrant birds while , Yala National Park, Wilpattu National Park, Tissa wetlands for the dry-zone species.
Google Map Showing Birding Hot Spots in Sri Lanka
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Read More details from Sri Lanka Birds Club Website: