Endemic Birds

Sri Lanka is home to 34 endemic bird species. The total number of bird species recorded in the island is 492 of which 219 are breeding residents. BirdLife International recognize Sri Lanka as one of the world's Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs). The number of endemic species has changed many times over the years. This is largely due to "close taxonomic revisions". The number of endemic species has fluctuated from a minimum 20 to a maximum 47. From 1977 the number settled at around 21. The figure was increased to 23 with the addition of two species in 1990. Many authorities have accepted this figure since then. Wijesinghe published A checklist of the birds of Sri Lanka in 1994 which considered the addition of three more species, but this move did not receive widespread recognition because its rationale was not in keeping with rigorous taxonomic practice. Subsequent publications on the avifauna of Sri Lanka and the South Asia region have not listed these three as endemics. However, within some Sri Lankan circles considered the endemics proposed by Wijesinghe as acceptable. This may be due to an over-enthusiasm in increasing endemic numbers to create a better ornithological image and increase the demand for commercial birdwatching.

  • Sri Lanka spurfowl is more often heard than seen. Their cackling early morning choruses are striking and unmistakable. They are expert ventriloquists; what is more, the birds move while calling, making it even more difficult to track them down.

    Ceylon Spurfowl 
  • The Sri Lankan Junglefowl is a member of the Galliformes bird order which is endemic to Sri Lanka, where it is the national bird. The Sri Lankan Junglefowl is common in every part of Sri Lanka, wherever jungle or dense scrub of any extent is to be found

  • The Sri Lanka wood pigeon is a pigeon which is an endemic resident breeding bird in the mountains of Sri Lanka.

    This species nests in damp evergreen woodlands in the central highlands, building a stick nest in a tree and laying a single white egg.

    Ceylon Woodpigeon 
  • Ceylon green pigeon is a pigeon in the genus Treron . In Sri Lanka, this bird and several other green pigeon are known as bata goya in the Sinhala language.It is found in the forests of Sri Lanka. Many authorities split the species from the pompadour green pigeon complex.

    Ceylon Green Pigeon 
  • Sri Lanka Hanging Parrots (Lorikeet) are completely arboreal, constantly on the wing in the highest levels of the forest canopy. The birds move about in pairs, and although a solitary individual might be seen, its mate is never far away. The sexes are alike except that females are duller-coloured with a lighter trace of blue on the throat.

    Ceylon Hanging Parrot 
  • Layard's parakeet (Psittacula calthrapae) is a parrot which is a resident endemic breeder in Sri Lanka. The common name of this bird commemorates the British naturalist Edgar Leopold Layard; his first wife, Barbara Anne Calthrop, whom he married in 1845, is commemorated in the specific epithet.

    Layard’s Parakeet 
  • The red-faced malkoha (Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus) is a member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes. This malkoha species is endemic to Sri Lanka. This is a large species at 46 cm with a long graduated tail.

    Red Faced Malkoha 
  • The Green-billed Coucal is special amongst Sri Lanka’s endemic birds. Its range today, continues to decline. The continuous destruction of lowland wet zone forest, together with the coucals’ avoidance of disturbed habitats, has brought this species close to the brink.

    Green Billed Couca 
  • Serendib Scops Owl has a small rufescent scops-owl with a short tail. No noticeable ear tufts. Not so distinct facial disk. Upperparts are almost completely rufous brown with dark markings. Under parts are paler rufous with dark triangular spots.

    Serendib Scops Owl 
  • The Chestnut-backed Owlet is among the more rarely seen of Sri Lanka’s endemic birds. It inhabits dense, low to mid country wet zone forests keeping largely to the upper storey of the canopy. It is largely restricted to a few undisturbed forest patches and has been recorded at altitudes up to around 2,000 meters.

    Chestnut Backed Owlet 
  • This is one of the most commonly-seen endemic birds. Essentially, it is a tall forest dwelling species. They occur throughout the wet-zone lowlands (except coastal areas) and mid-hills up to altitudes of around 1,200 meters, as well as the adjacent intermediate and dry zones.

    Ceylon Grey Hornbill 
  • The crimson-backed flameback or greater Sri Lanka flameback (Chrysocolaptes stricklandi) is a species of bird in the woodpecker family Picidae that is endemic to Sri Lanka.

    The crimson-backed flameback and the greater flameback (Chrysocolaptes guttacristatus) were both formerly considered as subspecies of the buff-spotted flameback.

    Crimson Backed Flameback 
  • The bird is found in all habitats with good forest cover but not very abundant and common (rare). The presence is often noted by its distinct call (a trill) that it makes on flight. Plantations and home gardens are visited if close to a forest patch. The pair sticks together all the time.

    Red backed flameback 
  • The Yellow-fronted Barbet is easily distinguished by its yellow forehead and blue face. It differs from other members of the family by having fewer bristles at the corner of the mouth and a shorter bill in proportion to its width at the base.

    Yellow Fronted Barbet 
  • Small, green barbet with a red forehead, light orange markings around the eye, blue sides to the face, and unstreaked belly. Usually located by incessant calls, given from the treetops. Occurs in open wooded areas, gardens, forest and forest edge in the lowlands and foothills, where typically encountered as singles or pairs.

    Crimson Fronted Barbet 
  • The blue magpie reaches a length of around 45 cm. Sexes are alike. Juveniles are much paler and have short tails pointed feathers. The eyelids of adults are red, bright orange-red feed. Adult plumage is attained by the second year.

    Ceylon Blue Magpie 
  • This resident breeder is usually seen in pairs and found abundantly in the wet zone and from the lowlands up to the mid mountainous areas.

    Black Capped Bulbul 
  • The yellow-eared bulbul (Pycnonotus penicillatus) is a species of songbird in the bulbul family of passerine birds. It is an endemic resident breeder in the highlands of Sri Lanka. The common name is also used as an alternate name for the yellow-throated bulbul.

    Yellow Eared Bulbul 
  • This glossy black bird is common in the remaining low country wet zone forests. The prominent crest and long tail feathers separate them from the other Drongos in the area. They are a “nuclear” member of the mixed species feeding flocks of the low country wet zone.

    Ceylon Crested Drongo 
  • The Sri Lanka bush warbler has sometimes been placed in the genus Bradypterus and a 2018 study confirms that it is a sister to the clade that contains the Bradypterus and Megalurus warblers it appears to be closely related to that genus, but differs in structure (relatively shorter-tailed and longer-billed), plumage (unmarked) and song. It is monotypic.

    Ceylon Bush Warbler 
  • The brown-capped babbler is an endemic resident breeding bird in Sri Lanka. Its habitat is forest undergrowth and thick scrub. This species, like most babblers, is not migratory, and has short rounded wings and a weak flight.

    Brown Capped Babbler 
  • Ceylon scimitar babbler (Pomatorhinus melanurus) is an Old World babbler. It is endemic to the island of Sri Lanka, and was formerly treated as a subspecies of Indian scimitar babbler.

    Ceylon Scimitar Babbler 
  • The orange-billed babbler (Argya rufescens) also known as Ceylon rufous babbler or Sri Lankan rufous babbler is a member of the family Leiothrichidae.

    The orange-billed babbler is a resident breeding bird endemic to Sri Lanka. In the past, it was considered to be a race of jungle babbler, Argya striatus.

    Ceylon Rufous Babbler 
  • The ashy-headed laughingthrush (Argya cinereifrons) is a member of the family Leiothrichidae. The laughingthrushes are a large family of Old World passerine birds characterised by soft fluffy plumage. These are birds of tropical areas, with the greatest variety in southeast Asia.

    Ashy Headed Laughingthrush 
  • The Sri Lanka white-eye (Zosterops ceylonensis) is a small passerine bird in the white-eye family, which is endemic to Sri Lanka. It is a resident breeder in forests, gardens and plantations, mainly in the highlands.

    Ceylon White Eye 
  • The Sri Lanka Mynah differs from the Hill Mynah by being slightly larger and having only a single pair of wattles on its head. Commonly recognized calls include hyu, piau and peeoo both of which are shrilly whistled in a carrying high-pitched voice.

    Ceylon Hill Myna 
  • The Sri Lanka whistling thrush (Myophonus blighi) is a whistling thrush in the family Muscicapidae. It is a resident endemic bird in Sri Lanka. It is found in the highlands of Sri Lanka in jungle or other dense forest near water.

    White Faced Starling 
  • A rarely-seen bird, the Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush (also known as the Arrenga) is exclusively resident in the mountains of the wet zone, at altitudes between about 1,200 and 2,100 meters. It occurs only in natural, undisturbed forest.

    Ceylon Whistling Thrush 
  • It is an endemic resident breeder in Sri Lanka. This uncommon species breeds in hill rainforests, and to a lesser extent in drier woodlands, at altitudes between 500 and 2000 m.

    Spot Winged Ground Thrush 
  • Also known as Sri Lanka Thrush it is a non-migratory resident breeder in the southwestern wet lowlands up to the mountainous regions. It is resident in the evergreen rain forests as well as in densely wooded areas, plantations and parks. This bird can be observed in the Sinharaja Rain Forest and the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary.

    Ceylon Scaly Thrush 
  • The dull-blue flycatcher (Eumyias sordidus) is a small passerine bird in the flycatcher family, Muscicapidae. It was previously included in the genus Muscicapa.

    Dusky Blue Flycatcher 
  • The Legge's flowerpecker is a common resident breeding bird of forests and other well-wooded habitats including gardens. Two eggs are laid in a purse-like nest suspended from a tree.

    Legge's Flowerpecker 
  • This small grey brown bird is about 14 cm in size, found primarily in the dry zone of the country. It has been seen in the low country wet zone in drier parts.

    Ceylon Woodshrike 
  • The Sri Lanka swallow (Cecropis hyperythra) is a resident breeder endemic to Sri Lanka. It is closely related to the red-rumped swallow, and was formerly considered a subspecies.

    Ceylon Swallow