Sri Lanka is a twitcher’s paradise and a half or full day birdwatching with a local ornithologist can be crafted to suit you at Kandy’s Udawtta Kele forest reserve and / or out in the wider jungle and countryside.
With over 500 species of bird recoded on the island, Sri Lanka is an avian paradise. Migratory birds and resident birds mix with over 30 endemic species and 80 others that have developed a distinctive Sri Lankanness. Many of these can be seen in the hills, valleys, paddy and jungle of the Kandyan heartland, especially in such rich forest reserves as Udawatta Kale, a 257 acre forest reserve close to the estate above the Temple of the Tooth – famous also for its 460 plant species, scores of mammals, reptiles, butterflies and fish.
A day’s birdwatching in the company of an ornithologist can be arranged through the Hotel’s Reception. The essential endemic bird checklist looks something like this:
Ashy-Headed Laughing Thrush (Argya cinereifrons).
Shy, rare and sadly restricted to a few lowland rain forests.
Black-Capped Bulbul (Pycnonotus melanicterus).
Forest lovers found right across the country.
Brown-Capped Babbler (Pellorneum fuscocapilius).
Widespread in forests and, despite its call, awfully discreet.
Ceylon Blue Magpie (Uroc’ssa ornata).
A beautifully colourful bird confined to wet-zone forests.
Ceylon Crested Drongo (Dicrurus lophorhinus).
Confined to wet-zone forests with a wonderful call range.
Ceylon Green Pigeon (Treron pompadora).
Abundant and colourful.
Ceylon Grey Hornbill – (Ocyceros gingalensis).
Stunning, serious looking birds happiest in hilly forests.
Ceylon Hanging Parrot (Loriculus beryllinus).
Small, chatty and found right across most hill lands.
Ceylon Hill-Myna (Gracula ptilogenys).
Common in lowland wet-zone forests and the high canopy.
Ceylon Jungle Fowl (Gallus lafayetii).
An early morning bird best in dry zone forest but occasional visitors of wet zone ones too.
Ceylon Rufous Babbler (Turdoides rufescens).
Often found in a noisy flock and equally happy in lowland and highland wet-zone rain forests.
Ceylon Scaly Thrush (Zoothera imbricata).
More of a hisser than a singer and found right across the island’s forests.
Ceylon Scimitar Babbler (Pomatorhinus melanurus).
A testament of avian marriage for they are usually seen in chatty pairs right across dry and wet zones.
Ceylon Small Barbet – (Megalaima rubricapillus).
Tiny, widespread with a crimson forehead.
Ceylon Swallow (Hirundo hyperythra).
Its reddish underparts are a giveaway, and it is untroubledly widespread.
Ceylon Whistling-Thrush (Myophonus blighi)
A cloud forest bird best seen at dusk or day break.
Ceylon White-Eye (Zosterops ceylonensis).
Flock forming birds fond of hilly gardens and jungle.
Ceylon Wood Pigeon (Columba torringtoniae).
Happiest in the higher forests but not so elite as to leave gardens unvisited.
Ceylon Wood-Shrike (Tephrodornis affinis).
A jungle bird in its element in the dry lowlands.
Chestnut-Backed Owlet (Glaucidium Castanonotum).
An owl to spot by day common in forests across the island.
Crimson-Backed Flameback (Chrysocolaptes stricklandi).
Unmistakably striking and flourishing across most hilly gardens and forests.
Dusky Blue Flycatcher (Eumyias sordidus).
Uncommonly comfortable with humans and found in most hills and gardens.
Green-Billed Coucal (Centropus chlororhynchos).
Sadly most endangered and only found in a few lowland rainforests.
Layard’s Parakeet (Psittacufa calthropae).
Noisy, colourful and found right across hilly wet-zone forests.
Legge’s Flowerpecker (Dicaeurn vincens).
Colourful ground feeders in the lowland wet zone forests.
Red-Faced Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus).
Distinctive looking, silent and rare, found best in lowland rainforests.
Serendib Scops-Owl (Otus hoffmanni).
Extremely rare and found in just a few lowland rainforests.
Spot-Winged Thrush (Zoothera spiloptera).
Easily detected by their brilliant song piercing wetland forests across the country.
Sri Lanka Bush Warbler (Elaphrornis paljiseri).
Ground level highland forest birds very fond of talking to one another.
Yellow-Eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus penicillatus).
With a call that is far from retiring, they are found right across wet zone hills and gardens.
White-Faced Starling (Sturnornis albofrontatus).
Confined to lowland wet-zone forests, where they can be spotted feeding close to the ground.
Yellow-Fronted Barbet (Megalaima flavifrons).
Happily common across any hilly land.