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RAINBIRDER | profile | all galleries >> ASIA >> SRI LANKA >> Sri Lankan Birds >> Endemic Sri Lankan Birds tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Endemic Sri Lankan Birds

Whilst Sri Lanka holds good numbers of easy-to-see waterbirds & raptors amongst others it is the endemic birds which prove the greatest attraction to visiting birders and clearly Sri Lanka is an avian biodiversity hot spot –but just how many Sri Lankan endemics are there?

Some authorities recognise 24 species, some 26 & others 33. The 24 for which there seems little dispute are:
Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Layard’s Parakeet, Red-faced Malkoha, Green-billed Coucal, Serendib Scops Owl, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, Spot-winged Thrush, Brown-capped Babbler, Orange-billed Babbler, Ashy-headed Laughingthrush, Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, Dull blue Flycatcher, White-throated Flowerpecker, Sri Lanka White-eye, Sri Lanka Magpie, Sri Lanka Myna, White-faced Starling.

Following the publication of “Ripley’s Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent” published by Rasmussen and Anderton (2005) a further 9 endemic species were proposed. Sri Lanka Scaly Thrush (Collar, 2004) is apparently quite distinct from the mainland Zoothera dauma and is receiving increased support for specific status. The Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler (Collar, 2005) is also now being increasingly treated as separate from Indian Scimitar Babbler. The other “debated” endemics are Sri Lanka Green Pigeon (=Pompadour Green Pigeon), Ceylon Small Barbet (=Crimson-fronted Barbet), Crimson-backed Flameback (=Greater Flameback), Sri Lanka Woodshrike (=Common Woodshrike), Sri Lanka Swallow (=Red-rumped Swallow), Black-headed Yellow Bulbul (=Black-crested Bulbul) and Sri Lanka Crested Drongo (=Greater racket-tailed Drongo). Whilst I’m not sure of the validity of many of these proposed splits it clearly made good sense to try and see as many of them as possible. Certainly the Crested Drongos we saw at Sinharaja were clearly very different in appearance and behaviour from the Greater racket-tailed Drongos we saw in Minnereya National Park whilst the Sri Lankan Black-headed Yellow Bulbuls also appeared very different from the images I have seen of the typical black-crested birds found in other parts of southern Asia.

I eventually managed to see 31 of the 33 definite/proposed endemics and heard the other two (Sri Lanka Spurfowl & Serendib Scops Owl). Given another night in Sinharaja I am sure we would have seen the Serendib Scops Owl as we located a calling bird and planned to return pre-dawn but a heavy downpour put paid to that plan! Sri Lanka Spurfowl is always a difficult bird to see & is usually drawn out by tape-lure but as the birds were actively breeding during our visit we felt it wasn't ethical to attempt tape-luring (which is not permitted in Sinharaja NP but is usually successful when used on the access road to the National Park apparently!).

Whilst I did get good views of Green-billed Coucal I was unable to get an image but I did manage to get images of the remaining 30 species though some of the photos are of shocking quality!!!
Ceylon Junglefowl (Gallus lafayetii)
:: Ceylon Junglefowl (Gallus lafayetii) ::
Sri Lanka Green Pigeon (Treron pompadora)
:: Sri Lanka Green Pigeon (Treron pompadora) ::
Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon (Columba torringtoni)
:: Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon (Columba torringtoni) ::
Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot (Loriculus beryllinus)
:: Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot (Loriculus beryllinus) ::
Layard's Parakeet (Psittacula calthropae)
:: Layard's Parakeet (Psittacula calthropae) ::
Red-faced Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus)
:: Red-faced Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus) ::
Chestnut-backed Owlet  (Glaucidium castanonotum)
:: Chestnut-backed Owlet (Glaucidium castanonotum) ::
Ceylon Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis)
:: Ceylon Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis) ::
Ceylon Small Barbet (Megalaima rubricapillus)
:: Ceylon Small Barbet (Megalaima rubricapillus) ::
Yellow-fronted Barbet (Megalaima flavifrons)
:: Yellow-fronted Barbet (Megalaima flavifrons) ::
Crimson-backed Flameback (Chrysocolaptes stricklandi)
:: Crimson-backed Flameback (Chrysocolaptes stricklandi) ::
Sri Lanka Swallow (Hirundo hyperythra)
:: Sri Lanka Swallow (Hirundo hyperythra) ::
Ceylon Wood-shrike (Tephrodornis affinis)
:: Ceylon Wood-shrike (Tephrodornis affinis) ::
Black-capped Bulbul (Pycnonotus melanicterus)
:: Black-capped Bulbul (Pycnonotus melanicterus) ::
Yellow-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus penicillatus)
:: Yellow-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus penicillatus) ::
Spot-winged Thrush (Zoothera spiloptera)
:: Spot-winged Thrush (Zoothera spiloptera) ::
Ceylon Scaly Thrush (Zoothera imbricata)
:: Ceylon Scaly Thrush (Zoothera imbricata) ::
Ceylon Whistling Thrush (Myophonus blighi)
:: Ceylon Whistling Thrush (Myophonus blighi) ::
Dull blue Flycatcher (Eumyias sordidus)
:: Dull blue Flycatcher (Eumyias sordidus) ::
Ceylon Rufous Babbler (Turdoides rufescens)
:: Ceylon Rufous Babbler (Turdoides rufescens) ::
Brown-capped Babbler (Pellorneum fuscocapillus)
:: Brown-capped Babbler (Pellorneum fuscocapillus) ::
Ashy-headed Laughingthrush (Garrulax cinereifrons)
:: Ashy-headed Laughingthrush (Garrulax cinereifrons) ::
Ceylon Scimitar Babbler (Pomatorhinus melanurus)
:: Ceylon Scimitar Babbler (Pomatorhinus melanurus) ::
Ceylon bush warbler (Bradypterus palliseri)
:: Ceylon bush warbler (Bradypterus palliseri) ::
White-throated  Flowerpecker (Dicaeum vincens)
:: White-throated Flowerpecker (Dicaeum vincens) ::
Ceylon White-eye (Zosterops ceylonensis)
:: Ceylon White-eye (Zosterops ceylonensis) ::
White-faced Starling (Sturnus albofrontatus)
:: White-faced Starling (Sturnus albofrontatus) ::
Sri Lanka Myna (Gracula ptilogenys)
:: Sri Lanka Myna (Gracula ptilogenys) ::
Ceylon Crested Drongo (Dicrurus lophorhinus)
:: Ceylon Crested Drongo (Dicrurus lophorhinus) ::
Ceylon Blue Magpie (Urocissa ornata)
:: Ceylon Blue Magpie (Urocissa ornata) ::