Enjoy amazing bird watching experiences in Sri Lanka

by | Jul 31, 2021


Being a tropical island, Sri Lanka is an ideal destination for exploring the bird population of the world. With favorable weather conditions all year round and close proximity to the equator, bird watching tours in Sri Lanka are always a success. The country boasts of bird favorite habitats such as grasslands, scrublands, wetlands, oceans, rainforests, and agricultural land. From all the bird species found in a small country such as Sri Lanka, there is an endemism rate of 11%, which proves it is one of the best birding destinations across the globe.

What makes Sri Lanka the perfect bird watching destination?

Birds can thrive in several kinds of habitats; as long as they have food, water and shelter for survival. So, anywhere where they can find plenty of plants to feed from, water to drink from, open space to fly in, and nests to take shelter, can become a habitat. In addition to a favorable tropical climate, Sri Lanka offers birds a range of habitats such as wet lowland tropical forests, grasslands, scrubs, stunted woodland, dry zones and highland cloud forests that promise to attract the best of the bird species in the world.

Species of Birds found in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka reports 439 species of birds, 236 of these are breeding residents, 203 are migrants and the remaining are vagrants. In addition to this, there are about 200 seasonal migratory birds (terrestrial and aquatic) that want to steer away from the Northern winter and fly to Sri Lanka all the way from Western Europe, Siberia and Scandinavia. From August/September to April/May, these birds breed in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, 33 endemic species of birds are present in Sri Lanka, and 68 endemic subspecies. While it is impossible to name all the bird species found in Sri Lanka, we will list a few below.

Endemic Birds

  • Greater Flameback
  • Lesser Yellow-naped Woodpecker
  • Sri Lanka Blue Magpie
  • Yellow-fronted Barbet
  • Sri Lanka Red Faced Malkoha
  • Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon
  • Spot winged Thrush
  • Sri Lanka Green Pigeon
  • White-Throated Flowerpecker
  • Jungle Fowl
  • Serendib Scops Owl
  • Hanging Parrot
  • Layards Parakeet
  • Green-Billed Coucal
  • Sri Lanka Frogmouth
  • Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush
  • Black capped Bulbul
  • Chestnut Backed Owlet
  • Sri Lanka Spurfowl

Migratory Birds

  • Openbill
  • Ibis
  • Heron
  • Egrets
  • Pelicans
  • Comorant
  • Water-cock
  • Swamphen
  • Waterhen
  • Stilts
  • Duck
  • Grebe

When is the best time to see birds?

For bird watching in Sri Lanka, any time between the months of October to end of April would be ideal because this is when the winter migrating birds are present in Sri Lanka. During these months, you’ll have a good chance of sighting a whole lot of wintering waders such as Indian Pitta, Kashmir Flycatcher, Orange-headed Thrush, and Pied Thrush. If visitors are mostly interested in the endemic bird species of Sri Lanka, May – July is a good time to plan your holiday.

Between dawn and 11am is when one can experience the best of birding in Sri Lanka as this is the time during which birds are most active. They like to sing and fly around in the early morning and on cloudy days, birds remain active for longer.

Best Places for a Bird Watching Tour

Kumana National Park is the main bird watching destination in Sri Lanka, known as an essential nesting and breeding sanctuary. The Bundala National Park is also a popular location for birds as it is located on their migratory route. Flamingos, storks and herons are the popular bird species to observe here. Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary, Bodinagala Forest Reserve, Yala National Park, Peak Wilderness Sanctuary, Horton Plains National Park, Kitulgala Forest Reserve and Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve are some other attractions that should be on your bird watching tour in Sri Lanka. Moreover, aquatic/marine bird sightings are possible on reservoirs, lakes, rivers, lagoons, marshes and tanks across the country.

7 tips for birdwatching in Sri Lanka

  1. Try to wear dark colors to camouflage yourself and to not scare away the birds.
  2. Pack a bird watching bag with binoculars, drinks, snacks and a camera.
  3. Don’t disturb the birds: walk softly, speak quietly, silence your phone, and don’t get too close to them.
  4. Find a good spot to sit and observe the birds. Remember, patience is necessary if you want to get some good sightings.
  5. Don’t sit near a nest for too long as this may cause birds to fly away rather than coming to their shelter.
  6. Think outside the box when looking for birds – trees, rooftops, parks, canals, etc.
  7. Opt for an experienced naturalist or a local guide for better sightings and understandings of the birds.


Bird watching is indeed a fun activity and no better place to explore birds than the tropical island of Sri Lanka! It is rich in bird life – from endemic species to migratory birds, you can see them all by creating a specially designed bird watching tour itinerary from Blue Lanka Tours.