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World's Best Bird Watching Site - Srilanka

Updated on January 21, 2011

Birds of Srilanka

Srilanka is a birds' paradise. Hence it is a paradise for the bird watchers too. For the size of the island, Srilanka has a wide diversity of bird species. There are 339 resident bird species of which 26 are endemic to Srilanka. With the 129 migrant bird species, bird watchers can watch 468 different bird species. There are differences of opinion among the ornithologists regarding these numbers, but this gives an indication of the variety of bird watching available.

To preserve the diversity and the endangered species Srilanka has declared many wild life sanctuaries, and bird sanctuaries. These are some of the world's best bird watching sites. Birds and bird life can be observed in the wild life sanctuaries as well as Wild life sanctuaries also known as National parks. With the end of terrorists' control of Northern and Eastern Provinces the national parks and the bird sanctuaries in those areas, that are best bird watching sites for watching dry zone birds are now open for visitors.

Ceylon Jungle Fowl, (Walikukula) National Bird of Srilanka

Wali Kukula (Gallus lafayettii Lesson) is endemic to Srilanka
Wali Kukula (Gallus lafayettii Lesson) is endemic to Srilanka

Bird Sanctuaries in Srilanka

Srilanka has many sites that are some of the world’s best bird watching sites. They are protected by law and are the purview of Forest Department or the Department of Wild Life Conservation. Srilanka has two distinctly different climatic zones. Any bird watcher has to visit different bird watching sites to watch different species living in the two different zones. Here is the list of best bird watching locations.

Wet zone bird watching sites

  1. Sinharaja World Heritage Wilderness Area
  2. Kitulgala – Kelani Valley Forest Reserve
  3. Peak Wilderness Sanctuary
  4. Galway’s land national Park and Sanctuary
  5. Horton Plains National Park
  6. Knuckles World Heritage Wilderness Area
  7. Ingiriya/Bodinagala Forest Reserve (Dombagaskanda)
  8. Labugama Kalatuwawa forest Reserve
  9. Salgala Forest
  10. Meethirigala Forest Reserve
  11. Thalangama tank and Marshes
  12. Sri Jayawardenepura Sanctuary
  13. Bellanvila - Attidiya sanctuary
  14. Udawattakele sanctuary
  15. Victoria, Randenigala & Rantambe sanctuary

Intermediate and Dry zone bird watching sites

  1. Bundala National Park
  2. Chilaw sand Spits
  3. Anavilundawa Sanctuary
  4. Nawadankulama Tank
  5. Wilpattu National park
  6. Mannar & Vankalai Sanctuary
  7. Giant’s Tank Sanctuary
  8. Jaffna peninsula
  9. Chundikulam Sanctuary
  10. Udawalawe National Park
  11. Sigiriya Sanctuary
  12. Lunugamvehera national Park
  13. Yala- Ruhunu National Park
  14. Kumana (Yala- East National Park)
  15. Kalametiya Sanctuary
  16. Wasgomuwa National Park
  17. Gal Oya National park
  18. Minneriya – Giritale National Park
  19. Kaudulla National Park
  20. Ritigala Strict National Reserve

Video on Birds from Srilanka

Bird Watching Holidays in Srilanka

There are many travel operators who specialize on specialty tours like bird watching tours. Colombo is connected by direct flights from many capitals  in Europe, middle east and Asia.

If any serious bird watcher is interested in bird watching holidays in Srilanka it is possible for them to get lot of help from Srilanka's prestigious  bird  watching club, Ceylon bird club  founded in 1943. They can provide any type of information to the bird watchers. They conduct water bird census annually with assistance from Wetlands international. Most of the bird watching sites in Srilanka are easily accessible by roads. Some places four wheel drive vehicles may be needed to gain access to the best spots. The bird watchers can hire Jeeps at those places at reasonable prices. But those who have only a short time can visit about ten sites closer to Colombo.

The bird watching sites closest to Colombo are Bellanwila-Aththidiya, Sri Jayawardenepura, Thalangama and Labugama. All these places are within one hours drive. These places are marshy. Water birds endemic, resident and migrating birds can be seen in these marshes. Hope to write separate hubs on these sites and the birds that frequent these places.  

Take the fast tour of Srilanka


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    • Sun Pen 50 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sun Pen 50 

      8 years ago from Srilanka

      Thank you Denise, for the visit, encouraging comment and the link also. You are welcome to Srilanka. You'll see lot of endemic birds and the nice friendly people (endemic too) Following you.

      Your hubs are great.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Voted up and useful, etc. This is a beautiful hub, Sun Pen. I love it. I have a couple of bird hubs, one about the Mourning Dove and the other about our state bird: the cardinal. There are a few of us here who write about birds: jlbowen has many hubs about bird watching. I would like to add this hub to my bird hub as a link. Thanks. Makes me want to go visit Srilanka now, more than ever.

    • Sun Pen 50 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sun Pen 50 

      8 years ago from Srilanka

      Thanks Chamil.

      Thanks Sam. And you are welcome to Paradise Island (Once again after about two decades).

    • Sam9999 profile image


      8 years ago

      Very informative hub. I love watching birds and visiting SriLanka to do so is now on my bucket list.

    • chamilj profile image


      8 years ago from Sri Lanka

      Awesome Hub on Sri Lanka Bird Watching! Thanks for sharing!


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