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Bird Watching in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a favorite spot for bird watchers across the world. The lush evergreen tropical vegetation is a

luxury to a variety of bird life. Bird-watching in Sri Lanka is a must-do activity for any nature lover and I am proud to be able to share my knowledge with the world.

I am fortunate to be able to live amongst birds in the wilderness. A number of resident and migrant birds visit my garden daily. As a painter, it is a huge privilege for me to be able to study them more closely to come up with life like paintings and drawings.

There are over 400 species of birds that have been recorded in Sri Lanka and can be categorised into two, the residents and the migrants.

Residents: Breed and spend their life within the country. Of these there are 34 species endemic to Sri Lanka, while the rest can be seen in both Sri Lanka and Indian mainland.

The Sri Lanka dull-blue flycatcher in this drawing is a small bird belongs to the flycatcher family, Muscicapidae. This species is an endemic resident breeder that can be seen in the hills of Central Sri Lanka where I am and a frequent visitor to my garden.

A bird painting of fish owl by Sri Lankan artist Maria Abeyesekere

Migrants: There are about 160 species which visit us in their winter season except one or two come in the summer to breed here. They arrive in September to October and leave for their habitats by April to May.

My acrylic painting titled Golden Eyes is a brown fish owl- ketupa Zeylonesis, a subspecies & resident bird, large owl but it's intermediate in size with other fish owls. It can be seen in forests and wooded wetlands in Sri Lanka. This owl species belongs to the typical owl family known as Strigidae.

About 80 species of birds still can be seen in crowded cities like our main, Colombo. Many places in Sri Lanka have a particular attraction for birds.

Adam's Bridge is a favourable wintering ground for a huge number of waterfowl and also a breeding

ground for resident water birds.

This is an oil painting of a Fishing Crane painted by Realist Artist Maria Abeyesekere

The following are breeding grounds for the majority of resident birds

Kumana Sanctuary Eastern Province

Lahugala Sacturay Eastern Province

Wirawila tank Southern Province

Chundikulam Northern Province

Ulankulam North-Central


Wlpattu National Park

Yala National Park

I have seen this Fishing Crane in Wilpattu National Park. This water bird with long legs and beautiful shading feathers belongs to the heron family, Ardeidae, native throughout temperate Europe and Asia and also parts of Africa.

Some birds reside in confined areas ranging from a few square kilometers to larger areas in some of the provinces. Following birds can be seen only in the Northern Province.

  1. The Indian Ring Dove

  2. The Ceylon Grey Partridge

  3. The Rufous-Backed Shrike

  4. The Ceylon Black Drongo

  5. The Ceylon Golden-Backed Woodpecker

  6. The Indian Courser

The Ceylon Black Drongo and The Ceylon Golden-Backed Woodpecker have extended their

territory southwards almost reaching the boundaries of the Wilpattu National Park

The Indian Courser has so far confined to its habitat to the coastal belt between Mannar

and Pooneryn in Sri Lanka

Birds that can be seen only in the hill country from an elevation of 3000 to 6000 feet.

· Lady Torrington’s Pigeon (The Ceylon Wood Pigeon)

· The Yellow-Eared Bulbul

· The Ceylon Blackbird

· The Ceylon Hill White-Eye

· The spotted –winged Thrush

· Pied ground Thrush

· The Ceylon Pied Bush Chat

Birds that can be seen in the Hills of Sabaragamuwa Province

· The Ceylon Blue Magpie

· The Ceylon Hill Mynah (Ceylon Grackle)

· The Ceylon Crested Drongo

· The White-Headed Starling

· Layards Flowerpecker

· The Ceylon Painted Partridge ( a game bird) : It was found in large numbers in the hill country and

the foot-hills of Uva Province many years ago but now confined to the Uva foot-hill patanas in the

Nilgala area

Common Birds

· The Ceylon Black-Headed Oriole

This resident bird is strikingly beautiful and moves in pairs. Found often in one’s garden even

in the city

· The Indian Roller (The Blue Jay)

Can be seen in city gardens and parks usually perch on a statue or post

· The Rose-Ringed Parakeet

Commonest among the parakeets and can be seen in pairs

· The Ceylon Lorikeet

Little colourful bird which visits gardens and hangs on branches like a squirrel with head

downwards to feed on fruits

This is a bird painting by Sri Lankan artist Maria Abeyesekere

· Barbets

There are four species of Barbets of which two

can be seen in Colombo. They are the Crimson

Breasted Barbet (Copper-smith) and the Brown-

Headed Barbet (the largest of them)

The yellow-fronted barbet in my painting is an Asian barbet, which is an endemic resident breeder in Sri Lanka. it resides in subtropical and tropical moist forests, wetlands, plantations and rural gardens up to an altitude of 2,000 m.

This bird is known as mukalang kottoruwa - මූකලන් කොට්ටෝරුවා in Sri Lanka

· Sun Birds

There are three species of Sunbirds. They are the most common garden birds and they build

pendulous nests on trees like bougainvillaea

Purple Sunbird

The Purple Rumped


· Fruit Suckers (Chloropsises)

These colourful birds are caged in other countries

· Bee-eaters

-Residents Viz, the common Ceylon Green Bee-Eater

The Chestnut-Headed Bee-Eater


The Blue-Tailed Bee-Eater Largest of the three. Breed on the Eastern coast of Sri Lanka thus appearing to become a


· The Indian Pitta

Also called 6 O’clock bird as it sings at six in the morning and evening

· Kingfishers: There are seven species recorded in Sri Lanka The Black Capped Purple Kingfisher - A rare migrant

The Ceylon Blue-Eared Kingfisher - A rare resident

White-Breasted Kingfisher - Commonest of all

Stork-Billed Kingfisher - Largest of the resident species-

The Pied Kingfisher

· Song Birds


It’s called the prince of songsters. It is known as one of the best songsters in the world

Can be seen in the dry zone. It sings in the early mornings and late evenings

Magpie Robin

It is the cousin of Shama and sings in the early mornings and late evenings. Its song can

be heard after rains at any time of the day and also during the breeding season and can

go on singing for hours at a time

The White-Billed Drongo

It mimics other birds and mammals such as cat

The Indian and Ceylon

They have a sweet whistle

Paradise Flycatchers

It has a soft whistle of few notes repeated continuously throughout the day

The Ceylon Orange-Breasted Blue Flycatcher

It flies while singing. Its song can be heard but can’t be seen often

The Sky Lark

It calls persistently when disturbed by humans or animals

Lapwing (Did-he-do-it): There are two species



Indian Koel

It has a rolling whistle consisting of two notes

Ceylon Iora

It has a soft melodious whistle.

Birds which build interesting nests:

· Weaver Bird: Two Species


It's name comes from its nesting habits. It selects a suitable leaf and pierces a row of holes

along each edge using his beak. This nest is built of vegetable cotton & fine grasses.


Males build retort-shaped pendant nests on tall trees by the bank on a tank or border of a

paddy field.

If you’re interested in bird-watching to refresh your mind and spirit, plan your next vacation to visit Sri Lanka, have many happy moments by learning to identify more birds and enjoy the wonders of nature.

Tips for Artists / Painters: It is vital to know the subject before you start painting or drawing. It is much better if you have seen your subject as it's easier for you to give more details in your realistic art.


Commenting has been turned off.
Oct 15, 2022

Its beautiful, love the artists style💕


Oct 15, 2022

Amazing art work! Wow


Oct 14, 2022

Great collection and wonderful paintings


Oct 11, 2022

Great commentary & nice tips.


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