To say that Sri Lanka is a bird paradise is an understatement, considering the hackneyed use of the term in this age

of globalized advertising campaigns and mediatized realities. For there is no other country in the world that can rival Sri Lanka for the sheer concentration of birdlife in proportion to its land mass. If you are looking to catch a glimpse of the most beautiful and diverse collection of birds to be found, within a short distance from each other, albeit in remarkably different climates, you will be hard pressed to find a place that surpass this unique island in the Indian Ocean. Traditionally it is believed that most of the migrant birds come to Sri Lanka from August to April, looking for warmer climates to settle down into, during the cold winter European and other Asian countries. It is the time when bird watchers from around the world too settle down around the lagoons and salterns of the eastern, north-western and south-eastern coasts and in the wetlands and forested areas of Sri Lanka. Over 200 species, from Northern India, Siberia, Scandinavia and Western Europe have been spotted, in addition to the well over 200 species of resident birds in the country. The Haldummulla Batgodde National Park is one of the best areas for sighting, located in Haldummulla in the Badulla District of the Uva Province of Sri Lanka. Haldummulla is yet one of the untouched and undisturbed cities in Sri Lanka’s second least populated Uva Province. Other good birding sites like Sinharaja World Heritage Wilderness area, Bundala Ramsar site, Yala and Uda Walawe National Parks; Horton Plains are imperative for any bird watcher. These birding sites will give all the endemics plus some other spectacular species. If one is interested, then a 12 to 14 day tour of the island will give about 225 species. Here is a list of some of the birds you will never miss and also would never want to miss in Sri Lanka Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) This is one of the favorites of the bird-lovers to be found in almost every garden in the country. The Redvented Bulbul is easily identified by its short crest giving the head a squarish appearance. The body is dark brown with a scaly pattern while the head is darker or black. The rump is white while the vent is red. The black tail is tipped in white. The cock is rather pugnacious and drives away others of its species, so it is generally met with in pairs – a large garden frequently being divided up into the territory of several pairs. Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephal) This is one of the most beautiful birds with its yellow, slightly downcurved bill, coral-pink face and legs and black and white body with pink tail feathers, abundant in the dry zone. It frequents freshwater marshes, lakes and reservoirs, flooded fields, rice paddies, freshwater swamp forest, river banks and saltpans in Sri Lanka. Yellow-Billed Babbler (Turdoides affinis)

From their habit of associating in small family parties. tuwick.a brilliant flash of yellow-gold . The young are often adopted by the whole troop and are fed by several members in addition to their parents. She then selects a strand of cotton or cobweb and passes it through the punctures so that the edges can be drawn together. forests. whereas the birds with the long white tails are winter migrants from India. but are particularly fond of visiting gardens and picking beneath trees and shrubs. often of six or seven birds. seeking for small grubs. insects and snails. Like all warblers. and well-wooded country during the north-east monsoon. Remarkably. the cocks with their long tails streaming out behind them . Although rather dull in their plumage. spending its time hunting for grubs and insects. it is not at all shy. Another interesting aspect of their communal life is that a squirrel often accompanies them.” They are found almost everywhere. useful birds with an interesting community life that repays close study. its presence in a garden would often be overlooked were it not for the loud. which keep in touch with one another by their loud limpid calls as they dive . she even ties a knot to prevent slippage. it is a beneficial bird. There are few well-wooded gardens that it does not visit periodically. Generally they frequent bushy trees or low shady undergrowth. Greater Coucal . Generally.hence the popular Sinhalese name redi-hora or “cotton thief” for the white cocks and gin-hora or “fire thief” for the red. They live chiefly upon small fruits and berries as well as upon insects and spiders. Having selected a leaf. persistent call “tuwick. noisy. Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsisphone pardisi) Both types of paradise flycatcher may be seen in gardens. Being unobtrusive in its habits.from tree to tree. tuwick” that issues from the depths of the bushes. The birds with long brown tails are the males of the local species. Black-Headad or Black-Hooded Oriole (Oriolus xanthornus) The black-headed oriole is one of the most conspicuously beautiful common birds to be found in Sri Lanka. sallying forth from some convenient perch to hunt for flies and other insects. It arrives in pairs. babblers are commonly called “seven sisters” or “seven brothers. the hen makes a number of punctures along the edge. Tailor-Bird (Orthotomus sutorius) The tailor-bird is reputed for the remarkable ability to stitch together the edge of a leaf or leaves to form a pocket in which to build its nest. they are cheerful. though it is much more plentiful in some areas than others. or darting across the open.

Purple-Rumped Sunbird (Nectarinia zeylonica) All three of Sri Lanka’s sunbirds. Red-Backed Woodpecker (Dinopium benghalense psarodes) The commonest of nine woodpeckers. watching for movement. beetles. or settled. It is then seen hopping up or down the trunk of a nearby tree or palm. flowerbeds and thickets for anything edible it can find. to grubs and wireworms. where it feeds upon small lizards. generally uttered on the wing. but is equally abundant in the more remote jungles and well-wooded districts. it commonly frequents gardens. but especially the purple-rumped. examining the trunk for ants. which it often broadcasts from the top of a high pole. from the middle of which its loud resounding call “Kook-Kook-Kook” issues frequently. but builds its own nest. it spends the day searching the shrubberies. paddy-fields and open country. In the open it runs rapidly. worms. It also has a song. suddenly diving down and catching some unsuspecting creature. It robs the eggs and young of many small birds. they are delightful little birds to watch.(Centropus sinensis) The coucal is the villain of the garden. Generally its presence is advertised by its loud trilling call. Generally it prefers to sit on a perch overhanging water. having finished one tree it flies to the next. crabs and frogs in the usual kingfisher manner when such prey is easily available. with a typical jerky. Then. are frequent visitors to gardens with copious flowers. the noise of its rapid wing beats being audible at some distance. Usually it starts at the bottom and hops its way up. it also does good by destroying pests. Its cry is a loud cackling call. White-Throated or White-Breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon smy rnensis) The gorgeous kingfisher is found far away from water just as frequently as near it. undulatory flight. and insects. Its flight is ungainly. but it prefers to creep through dense thickets. Although in no way related to the hummingbirds of the Americas. from snails. However. Hovering in front of a brilliant flower. This is because they live upon the nectar of various flowers as well as upon small insects and spiders. Being omnivorous. It is related to the cuckoos. and it indulges in long glides with set wings when passing to some distant tree. beetles. some . flicking their wings. grubs and other insects. the red-backed is a frequent visitor to gardens in the residential areas of Colombo. Although it catches small fish.

of their habits are similar. The males are very pugnacious and continually chase one another as well as other sunbirds. . so they are sometimes miscalled “hummingbirds” in Sri Lanka.

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