Endemic Bird Species of Sri Lanka

The Ceylon hanging parrot.
The Ceylon hanging parrot.

Sri Lanka, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, is home to a great diversity of flora and fauna. 492 bird species have been recorded in the country including 219 breeding residents. 29 of these species are endemic to the country. BirdLife International recognizes the country as one of the Endemic Bird Areas of the world. Below is a list of some of these birds of Sri Lanka.

8. Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush

Myophonus blighi is a whistling thrush that is found in Sri Lankan highlands in dense forests near water bodies. It is omnivorous and feeds on insects, frogs, berries, etc. It builds nests on ledges near water. It is small in size, around 20 cm. Males of the species are dark blue with some bright blue patches on the forehead, shoulders, and supercilia. Females are brown and chestnut. They also have bright blue patches on the shoulders. The males sing a simple whistling song to attract females in the breeding season. The Sri Lanka whistling thrush is an endangered species whose population is declining steadily due to habitat loss. Horton Plains National Park in the country is one of the few places to spot this shy and elusive bird.

7. Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot

Loriculus beryllinus is a small parrot, a resident breeder in the country. It is around 13 cm long, has a short tail, and is mostly green. The adult bird has a red rump and crown. An orange tint is present on the back and neck while the throat and chin are pale blue. It lives in small groups or alone. It inhabits the open forests in the country and is strictly arboreal. Currently, Sri Lanka hanging parrot has relatively stable populations and is a Least Concern species.

6. Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon

Columba torringtoniae is an endemic resident of Sri Lanka. It occurs in the wet evergreen woodlands of the Sri Lankan highlands. It is primarily herbivorous in nature. The bird attains a length of around 36 cm and has a dark grey tail and upperparts. The underside is lilac but paler on the belly. The nape of the bird has a black and white chessboard pattern. The Horton Plains National Park is an ideal location to spot this bird. Habitat loss threatens the species which is enlisted as Vulnerable by the IUCN.

5. Serendib Scops Owl

Otus thilohoffmanni is the newest bird species discovered in Sri Lanka since 1868. It lives in the southern rain forests of the country at elevations ranging from 30 to 50 m. It is strictly nocturnal and hunts for insects. It has a length of around 16.5 cm and a reddish-brown color. The underparts are paler and fine black spots cover the entire body. Two features, the absence of ear tufts, and a less prominent facial disc differentiate the Serendib scops owl from the Indian and oriental scops owls. IUCN labels the species as endangered. Loss and degradation of habitat are the primary threats to this owl.

4. Sri Lanka Blue Magpie

The Urocissa ornata is an endemic Sri Lankan bird found in the wet evergreen rainforests in the country. Small groups of six to seven birds live together. Lizards, insects, frogs, and even fruits constitute the diet of this bird. The size of the Sri Lanka blue magpie ranges from 42 to 47 cm. The adult is brightly colored. It has a red bill and leg, blue feathers, white-tipped tail, and chestnut head and wings. Habitat loss threatens the species.

3. Red-faced Malkoha

The Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus lives in the dense forests of Sri Lanka. It is primarily found in the Sinharaja Forest Reserve. It is a large bird with a length of around 46 cm. It has a dark green back and a white-edged green tail. It has white underparts. The bill is green and a large red eye patch features prominently. The crown and throat are black. The red-faced malkoha feeds on insects and small vertebrates. It is very difficult to spot due to its shy nature. IUCN has enlisted the species as vulnerable. Habitat destruction threatens the species.

2. Sri Lanka White-throated Flowerpecker

The Dicaeum vincens is a resident breeder of Sri Lanka. It is found in forests and other well-wooded habitats in the country. The bird measures only around 10 cm and weighs around 9 g. It has a short, thick bill. The upperparts are blue-black and the underparts are white to yellow. Female has olive-brown upperparts. The bird feeds on nectar, berries, and invertebrates. It is a near-threatened species.

1. Green-billed Coucal

Centropus chlororhynchos is a resident of the rainforests in southwest Sri Lanka where it nests in bushes. The size of the bird is around 43 cm. It has a purple-black head and body. Wings are maroon and black. The tail is dark green, and the bill is light green. Due to its dense habitat, the green-billed council is not easy to spot. Insects and small vertebrates constitute its diet. Massive deforestation threatens the future of this species. Hence, IUCN enlists the species as vulnerable.

How Many Endemic Birds Are There In Sri Lanka?

RankCommon nameBinomialFamilyStatus
1Sri Lanka spurfowl Galloperdix bicalcarata PhasianidaeLeast Concern
2Sri Lanka junglefowl Gallus lafayetii PhasianidaeLeast Concern
3Sri Lanka wood pigeon Columba torringtoni ColumbidaeVulnerable
4Sri Lanka green pigeon Treron pompadoraColumbidaeLeast Concern
5Sri Lanka hanging parrot Loriculus beryllinus PsittacidaeLeast Concern
6Layard's parakeet Psittacula calthrapae PsittacidaeLeast Concern
7Red-Faced Malkoha Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus CuculidaeVulnerable
8Green-billed Coucal Centropus chlororhynchos CuculidaeVulnerable
9Sri Lanka Serendib scops-owlOtus thilohoffmanni StrigidaeEndangered
10Sri Lanka chestnut-backed owlet Glaucidium castanotumStrigidaeNear Threatened
11Sri Lanka grey hornbillOcyceros gingalensis BucerotidaeLeast Concern
12Yellow-fronted Barbet Megalaima flavifronsMegalaimidaeLeast Concern
13Crimson-fronted barbet Megalaima rubricapillusMegalaimidaeLeast Concern
14Sri Lanka magpie Urocissa ornata CorvidaeVulnerable
15Black-capped bulbulPycnonotus melanicterusPycnonotidaeLeast Concern
16Sri Lanka yellow-eared bulbul Pycnonotus penicillatus PycnonotidaeNear Threatened
17Sri Lanka bush-warbler Bradypterus palliseri SylviidaeNear Threatened
18Sri Lanka brown-capped babbler Pellorneum fuscocapillus TimaliidaeLeast Concern
19Sri Lanka scimitar-babbler Pomatorhinus melanurus TimaliidaeLeast Concern
20Sri Lanka orange-billed babbler Turdoides rufescens TimaliidaeNear Threatened
21Sri Lanka ashy-headed laughingthrush Garrulax cinereifrons TimaliidaeVulnerable
22Sri Lanka white-eye Zosterops ceylonensis ZosteropidaeLeast Concern
23Sri Lanka myna Gracula ptilogenys SturnidaeNear Threatened
24Sri Lanka white-faced starling Sturnus albofrontatus SturnidaeVulnerable
25Sri Lanka whistling-thrush Myophonus blighiTurdidaeEndangered
26Sri Lanka spot-winged thrush Zoothera spiloptera TurdidaeNear Threatened
27Sri Lanka scaly thrush Zoothera imbricata TurdidaeNear Threatened
28Sri Lanka dull-blue flycatcher Eumyias sordidaMuscicapidaeNear Threatened
29Sri Lanka white-throated flowerpecker Dicaeum vincensDicaeidaeNear Threatened

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