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Diverse and favourable climatic conditions and natural habitats such as forests, scrublands, grasslands, wetlands, seas, and agricultural lands make Sri Lanka a regular wintering ground for migratory birds both terrestrial and aquatic.

The country is home to 439 species of birds of which 236 are breeding residents, 203 migrants and the rest vagrants. Having 33 endemic species and 68 endemic subspecies of birds with a species endemism of 11% goes to demonstrate why Sri Lanka is one of the finest birding destinations in the world.

Being an island in the tropics Sri Lanka has its perks. Very few island nations of its size can match Sri Lanka in the amount of diversity that you get in terms of the number of birds you will see everywhere you go in the country.

It should go without saying that all birds endemic to Sri Lanka are highly photogenic, so if you have a good camera, bring it along.

Kumana National Park – Historical birdwatching experience in a 3rd century bird park 

Kumana National Park is located in south eastern Sri Lanka covers an area of 18,000-hectares.

A significant feature of the Park is the ‘Kumana VIllu’, a 200-hectare natural swamp lake which serves as a breeding ground for birds. Kumana is a rich bird sanctuary and it is at this mangrove swamp that many water birds’ nest in May and June.

The biodiversity of Kumana is spectacular as almost half of Sri Lanka’s bird species are found here. The Kumana sanctuary also serves as a feeding and resting ground for more than 35 species of migratory aquatic bird species. Bird lovers will enjoy the regular sightings of: Pelicans, Painted Storks, Spoonbills, White Ibis, Herons, Egrets and Little Cormorants.

RAMSAR Sites of Bundala and Mannar National Parks

Sri Lanka is a hotspot for migrant birds where hundreds of winter migrants arrive for feeding during October until April. Mannar is a great location to photograph Flamingos, Water birds and Shorebirds and is a less frequently visited spot on the main birding routes.

If you are serious bird watcher, Bundala is one place you cannot afford to miss. This small strip of jungle and wetland in the deep south is an internationally renowned and important wintering ground for migratory water birds. It is the first RAMSAR site in Sri Lanka and is designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in addition to being a National Park.

Early morning sun provides ideal lighting for photographing these beauties. Park opens at 6.00 AM. We highly recommond you to hire a park guide who is not only an expert in  spotting and identifying varieties of birds, but also be able to give you tips on birding you won’t hear otherwise.

Although the best time to visit is during winter months in the northern hemisphere (November to March), there are 139 resident bird species recorded in Bundala which means one can visit all year round and still see Sri Lankan birdlife in all its glory.

Birdwatching & Boat tour in Kalametiya Sanctuary

Kalametiya is a coastal wetland area that is situated on the picturesque southeastern coast of Sri Lanka near Tangalle in the Hambantota district.

There are over 150 species of birds recorded in Kalametiya bird sanctuary and out of which 54 are migratory. There are four nationally threatened birds found within the sanctuary – Indian Reef Heron, Glossy Ibis, Sri Lankan Jungle Fowl and Black-capped Purple Kingfisher, with Jungle Fowl being the only endemic species.

An experienced birding guide/naturalist accompanying you makes the birding excursion even more special and inspiring.

Birdwatching Trek in Sinharaja Rainforest

Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a national park and a biodiversity hotspot in Sri Lanka. It is of international significance and has been designated a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

With more than 95% of Sri Lanka’s endemic birds found, bird watching in Sinharaja is a phenomenal experience. There are more than 147 species are recorded to date.To name a few; the Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Red Faced Malkoha, Grey Hornbill and White Headed Starling. About 13% of the birds seen are migratory, coming in for their winter break.

Wonder through 3 unique trails which give you three different bird sighting experiances; Sinhagala, Yodamawatha and Kuda-wela. Our Naturalist will assist you to pick the best.

Birdwatching Trek in Kithulgala – Kelani Valley forest reserve

This is an ideal rainforest habitat to spot most of the lowland endemic bird species.

Kitulgala has a rich ecosystem. They are home to hundreds of species of birds; including the endemic Green-bill Coucal, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Red-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Spot-winged Thrush, Grey Hornbill, Sri Lanka Spur fowl, Ceylon Jungle fowl and Yellow-fronted Barbet and the Serendib Scops Owl.

Your naturalist will assist you in identifying the species and tell you more about them.

Birdwatching & Trekking in Udawatte Kele Sanctuary

Bird watching in Udawatta Kele Sanctuary will give you an exciting experience in the Hill Country of Sri Lanka. Located close proximity to Kandy Lake, it is an eco-tourism site which expands over 103 hectares. The lake within this evergreen forest sanctuary attracts many species of birds that feed on fish.

This sanctuary is home to varieties of birds like yellow fronted barbet, Layard’s Parakeet, Spot bellied eagle owl, Sri Lankan hanging parrot, Green fronted leaf bird, and native three-toed Kingfisher, & Sri Lanka hill myna and many more.

Birdwatching in Horton Plains National Park.

Horton Plains National Park has unique vegetation and is famous for many rare and endemic highland birds that you will not see elsewhere in Sri Lanka. This makes it an important place for keen birdwatchers.

Sri Lanka’s second and third highest peaks, Kirigalpoththa (2388M) and Thotupola (2357M) are found here. Access trails to these two provide you a great opportunity to spot the highland birds freely because these two trails are hardly used.

Horton Plains National Park is home to 87 bird species. This include the five montane endemic species such as Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka White Eye, Sri Lanka Bush Warbler & Dull Blue Flycatcher.

Birdwatching Trek in Habarana 

Make a journey to the historically significant Habarana Lake for Bird watching and greet the diverse avian life present in the area.

Catch glimpses of bright feathers amongst the greenery and try to identify them. The area is widely considered to be a hotspot for bird watchers. Aaround 120 bird species have been spotted by the birdwatchers in Habarana.

Sightings include Sri Lankan Grey Hornbill, Sri Lankan Green Pigeon, Coppersmith Barbet, Red Vented Bulbul, Indian Cormorant, Little Cormorant, Oriental Darter, Spotted Dove, White Bellied Sea Eagle, Comon Iora, Pheasant Tailed Jacana, Brahminy Kite, Small Minivet, Black Hooded Oriole, Grey Breasted Prinia, Crested Tree Swift and many more.

Birding is not only about watching birds or photography, it is an adventure.

Srilankan Voyages can provide expert advise on best time to travel, where to stay and most importantly a reliable naturalist at each location for your birding tour … So get in touch with us by sending a web message and we will be more than happy to help you to get the best birding adventure in Sri Lanka.

Tropical birds visit the island follow air currents at different times of the year. So grab your birding equipment (i.e. binoculars, cameras, suitable clothing, supplies, etc.) and come to Sri Lanka for a truly memorable Bird Watching experience!

Compiled by: Ajith Weerasekera


4 Responses
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