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Endemic Birds of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Spurfowl
(ශ්‍රි ලංකා හබන්-කුකුලා)
Galloperdix bicalcarata

After 5 attempts, success at last in photographing these amazing birds. They are notoriously shy and will disappear at the slightest disturbance. Also in the gloom of the rainforest floor, capturing details adds another challenge.

This beautiful male and female were photographed after trying 3 days in the same spot. Then also they were gone within like 3 minutes.

Sri Lanka Junglefowl
(ශ්‍රි ලංකා වලි-කුකුලා)
Gallus lafayettii

The national bird of Sri Lanka was first seen on the outskirts of the Sinharaja rainforest. Although normally they are very shy, in villages around Sinharaja, they have got used to human dwellings and can be seen around houses. The female is brown in colour.

Images 5 and 6 are of two males from Bundala National Park. Image 7 is from Nilgala Forest Reserve. Images 8 and 9 are from Wilpattu National Park.

Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon / Ceylon Wood Pigeon (ශ්‍රි ලංකා මයිල පරවියා)
Columba torringtoniae

This endemic beauty was photographed on the outskirts of the Sinharaja rainforest. It was in the canopy hidden among the foliage which made it very difficult to take a better picture. Hopefully, I will come across them again so I can do justice to their beauty.

Sri Lanka Green Pigeon / Pompadour Green Pigeon (පොම්පදෝරු බටගොයා)
Treron pompadora

These native beauties have proved notoriously difficult to photograph. The first photos were taken on the outskirts of Kithulgala from afar. A whole bunch were in the canopy and never came down closer.

I came across a flock of them on the outskirts of Wilpattu and got lucky. (Images 3 to 6)

Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot / Ceylon Lorikeet
(ශ්‍රි ලංකා ගිරාමලිත්තා)
Loriculus beryllinus

I was on the roof of my ancestral house in Bulathsinhala waiting for some bird to show up for more than an hour. Just as I was about to give up, this amazing beauty showed up. I didn't know that she is endemic at the time. What joy when I finally checked what I photographed.

The last picture is from Sinharaja rain forest. Look at the beautiful colours and form. :)

Layard's Parakeet
(ශ්‍රි ලංකා අලු ගිරවා)
Psittacula calthrapae

I took the 1st photograph inside the Dehiwala Zoo birds enclosure. The other photos at the outskirts of Sinharaja rain forest where a group of them were feeding on a fruit tree. They gave me a superb display of their colours and abilities.

Endemic to Sri Lanka, just look at the explosion of colours at certain angles.

Red-faced Malkoha
(ශ්‍රි ලංකා වතරතු මල්කොහා)
Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus

Seen on the outskirts of the Sinharaja rainforest, this rare and endemic beauty is a price capture. Such a beautiful bird, he was notoriously hard to take a picture as he stayed mostly inside the bush and was jumping around so quickly. 

Green-billed Coucal
(ශ්‍රි ලංකා බට ඇටි-කුකුලා)
Centropus chlororhynchos

Seen at Sinharaja forest just after a few morning showers. He was catching the first rays of sunlight. Such a majestic bird who is endemic to Sri Lanka.

Serendib Scops Owl
(පන්ඩුවන් කන්බස්සා)
Otus thilohoffmanni

The last new endemic species to be added to the list of endemic birds of Sri Lanka, this majestic owl is photographed in the outskirts of Sinharaja rain forest. After a hectic climb, Thilak (my guide when I go to Sinharaja) was able to spot this one inside a thick bush of bamboo. Unfortunately, taking a good image of the whole bird was impossible as it was inside the thick bush. What a beauty and what personality.

Chestnut-backed Owlet
(ශ්‍රි ලංකා පිට තම්බල උපබස්සා)
Glaucidium castanotum

This rare and endemic owlet is one of my price photographs. Captured at low light deep inside the Sinharaja rain forest, he was very difficult to spot. My bird tracker, ‘Thilake’ used its recorded call to get the owlet to give away its position as he responded when the call was made. How I wished I had taken my tripod to take a long exposure shot which would have had better clarity. What a beauty of a bird.

Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill / Ceylon Grey Hornbill (ශ්‍රි ලංකා අලු කෑදැත්තා)
Ocyceros gingalensis

This endemic beauty is quite common in the rainforests such as Sinharaja. All the pictures are from Sinharaja and its outskirts taken during multiple trips.

Sri Lanka Small Barbet / Ceylon Small Barbet
(රත්-මූනත් කොට්ටෝරුවා)
Xantholaema rubricapillus

When I was initially taking the photographs, I didn’t realise that it was a Sri Lanka Small Barbet as I thought it is a Yellow-fronted Barbet. I was positively surprised when I found out later on. Captured in the outskirts of The Bodinagala forest reserve and in the outskirts of Rathnapura.

Yellow-fronted Barbet
(ශ්‍රි ලංකා රන්මූනත් කොට්ටෝරුවා)
Megalaima flavifrons

Seen at the outskirts of Sinharaja forest, in images 1 and 2, this endemic beauty was looking for food by digging tree barks at the joints. As he was photographed from a distance, I was unable to get a perfect photo. Thus hoped I will run into them again as they are such beautiful bird species.

My wish came true on a subsequent trip where I managed to take some beautiful captures on a rainy morning.

Red-backed Flameback (රත්-කෑරලා)
Dinopium psarodes

First photographed in Polonnaruwa where this beauty was close to his nest in a tree trunk. Not sure whether he had little ones inside the nest.

Image 5 is from 'Debarawewa'.

Images 6 to 12 are from the outskirts of the Sinharaja rainforest. Image 13 from the outskirts of Bodhinagala forest reserve.

Crimson-backed Woodpecker
Chrysocolaptes stricklandi

Yet to capture image

Sri Lanka Swallow / Ceylon Swallow
Cecropis hyperythra

I came across a flock of them near the Mahaweli river in the outskirts of Kandy. Initially very shy, after a while, they were ok with me approaching closer. There were around 10 birds in this one small flock moving from one small tree to another mostly focusing on the morning grooming. (Images 1 to 8)

Images 9 and 10 are from Yala National Park.

Sri Lanka Woodshrike / Ceylon Wood Shrike
(වන-කෞල් ඇස්පටියා)
Tephrodornis affinis

Photographed in Kalkudah area, it was inside the shade of a tree which meant I had to take the photos in low light without even knowing what species I was photographing. I had to get creative to improve the light with editing to see the beauty of the bird. 

Images 6 and 7 are from the outskirts of Nilgala forest.

Black-headed Yellow Bulbul / Black-capped Bulbul (හිස කලු කොන්ඩයා)
Pycnonotus melanicterus

1st seen at Rathnapura, there were a couple of them flying around in a bush. I wish I had more time to spend in their presence but I was pressed for time as I was with family.

The other images are from Sinharaja rain forest where this beautiful bird put on a good display for me.

Yellow-eared Bulbul
(ශ්‍රි ලංකා කහ-කැන් කොන්ඩයා)
Kelaartia penicillata

Endemic to Sri Lanka and only found in the highlands, this magnificent beauty was seen at Horton Planes.

Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush / Ceylon Whistling Thrush (ශ්‍රි ලංකා උරුවන්-තිරසිකයා) Myophonus blighi

Yet to capture image

Spot-winged Thrush / Spotted-winged Thrush (තිත්-පියා තිරසිකයා)
Geokichla spiloptera

First seen at Sinharaja rain forest, this endemic thrush put on a very good display for me. There were a couple of them flying around and fighting in the tea bushes on the outskirts of the forest.

Image 8 is taken inside Udawatta Forest Reserve in Kandy. This one was feasting on ground worms.

Sri Lanka Scaly Thrush / Ceylon Scaly Thrush
(කයුරු තිරසිකයා)
Zoothera imbricata

This sighting was special. Walked for a long time before coming across 3 of them. Competing in the same area with 2 other Spot-winged Thrush. It is a bit unfortunate I couldn't take a video. I was too excited by the opportunity to see them let alone take photographs. Not to mention the gloom at the time. What a specialist. Was eating earth worms like it was walk in the park.

Brown-capped Babbler
Pellorneum fuscocapillus

First captured in low light inside the bush in Kandalama, I didn't realize at the time it was an endemic species. (Images 1 and 2) I came across another on the outskirts of Wilpattu (image 3) again during a gloomy morning. Notoriously difficult to photograph as they stay well inside the bush.

What a beautiful babbler. 

Sri Lanka Scimita-babbler / Ceylon Scimitar Babbler (දැ-දෙමලිච්චා)
Pomatorhinus melanurus

Rare and endemic, this beautiful babbler was first seen in the Sinharaja rainforest. Such an odd-looking but beautiful bird.

I came across a pair of them inside the Makandawa Forest Reserve, Kithulgala. (Images 5 to 7)

Orange-billed Babbler / Rufous Babbler
(ශ්‍රි ලංකා රතු දෙමලිච්චා)
Turdoides rufescens

The undisputed endemic chatter, these guys travel as small flocks and make lots of noise. Although they were all around me in the bushes when I saw them at Sinharaja rain forest, they were such busybodies jumping from one bush to another, it was very difficult for me to focus on any of them. 

Ashy-headed Laughingthrush
(ශ්‍රි ලංකා අලු-දෙමලිච්චා)
Garrulax cinereifrons

Seen at Sinharaja rain forest, when I first came across this rare and endemic bird, it flew immediately after I managed to take only a couple of shots. As he was inside the bush, the low light caused the photograph to be lower quality.

Came across a bunch of them again on a subsequent trip but as they spend most of their time in the undergrowth and because they jump around all the time, they are notoriously difficult to capture in a good photograph.

Sri Lanka Bush Warbler / Ceylon Warbler
(ශ්‍රි ලංකා වනරවියා)
Elaphrornis palliseri

Photographed in Horton Plains National Park, this endemic and endangered beauty is very difficult to photograph as they spend most of their time inside the bush hopping from one branch to another. I had to spend a lot of time just waiting for one to stay a few seconds in one place so I can take a photograph.

Images 1 and 2 are of a male who has a red colour eye. Images 3 to 5 are of a female who has a pale buff eye.

Dull-blue Flycatcher / Dusky-blue Flycatcher
(ශ්‍රි ලංකා නීලන්-මැසිමාරා)
Eumyias sordidus

Photographed at Horton Plains National Park. I managed to take pictures of 2 different birds on the same day. What a unique beauty that lives exclusively above mid-hills of Sri Lanka.

White-throated Flowerpecker / Legge’s Flowerpecker (ශ්‍රි ලංකා පිලිලිච්චා)
Pachyglossa vincens

Rare and endemic, these female White-throated Flowerpeckers were eating ripe fruits on a Jam tree on the outskirts of Sinharaja forest. There were two of them but both were females.

Sri Lanka White-eye / Ceylon Hill White-eye
(ශ්‍රි ලංකා සිතාසියා)
Zosterops ceylonensis

Endemic to Sri Lankan highlands this beauty was captured on my camera in low light at misty Mandaramnuwara in the foothills of Piduruthalagala. Based on the wide eye-ring and the greenish colour I'm confident this is a Sri Lankan White-eye and not an Oriental White-eye.

Sri Lanka Crested Drongo / Ceylon Crested Drongo
Dicrurus lophorinus

The endemic gangster of the rain forest, he leads the rally call for creating the famous bird flocks of the rain forest. Being one of the bravest of the birds, the other species rally to their call and they lead the pack through the forest. He is able to mimic lots of bird and animal calls making him unique in the bird world.


Seen and photographed at Sinharaja rain forest and in low light inside the thick canopy.

Sri Lanka Blue Magpie / Ceylon Blue Magpie
(ශ්‍රි ලංකා කැහිබෙල්ලා)
Urocissa ornata

These natives are perhaps the most famous indigenous birds of Sri Lanka. Related to the crow family, they are known to be super mischievous. The first pair was photographed at the entrance to the Sinharaja rain forest.

From image 10 onwards, it's from a subsequent trip again to Sinharaja. What a beautiful bird and in my view nicely captures the beauty of my island. 

White-faced Starling / Ceylon White-headed Starling (ශ්‍රි ලංකා වතසුදු ශරිකාවා)
Sturnornus albofrontatus

Rare, endangered and endemic, this bird is only seen in the Sinharaja rainforest. The photographs were taken from a far distance and are a bit blurred.

They hardly come down from the canopy. Had to try a few times to even get a decent photograph.

Sri Lanka Myna / Ceylon Hill Myna
(ශ්‍රි ලංකා සැළලිහිණියා)
Gracula ptilogenys

This beautiful endemic bird had a nest in the tree trunk and probably had little ones in it. The parents made frequent visits to the nest. I wish I spent more time and got better pictures.

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