Endemic Birds of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has recorded 492 species of bird, of which 219 are breeding residents and 23 are endemic. Of these endemics, the most endangered include the Serendip Scops Owl, the very colourful Sri Lanka Magpie, the Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush and the Sri Lanka red-faced Malkoha.

Our Endemics of Sri Lanka birdwatching journeys are privately guided by expert birdwatching guides, which target endemic and resident species which you can see at any time of the year, as well as exotic visitors which happen to be on location at the time. What you want to focus on is up to you - just let us know and we will adapt accordingly. If you click on the |Itinerary| tab above, you will be able to see some of the key bird species you can hope to find at the locations we recommend.

By the very nature of seeking different bird species, you will be exposed to a wide range of habitats and scenery Sri Lanka has to offer. Below is a summary of each area, plus links to more detail about each of these locations. Locations we will also take you to which are not listed include:

- Victoria Park in Nuwara Eliya
- Athwelthota Forest Reserve which adjoins the Sinharaja Rainforest
- Ratnaloka

This itinerary can be adjusted as you wish, taking in different areas or widening your focus to include wildlife and cultural highlights. By virtue of the locations you will be visiting, you will already have good opportunities to see leopards, Asian elephants, wild water buffalo, wild boar, golden jackals, monkeys and more.

Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park lies on Sri Lanka's southeastern coast. Beaches here attract nesting turtles whilst extensive wetlands attract crocodiles, flamingos and all of Sri Lanka's species of wetland birds - often in large numbers. Away from the wetlands, short thorny forest predominates... more

Horton Plains National Park

Horton Plains National Park is a very scenic upland region of Sri Lanka close to Nuwera Eliya. You can enjoy here a mix of rocky escarpments, waterfalls, higher altitude forests and open plains not unlike a Scottish landscape, especially when a stag appears...  more

Kitulgala Forest Reserve

Kitulgala Forest Reserve is home both to excellent birdlife and as a base for some of Sri Lanka's best adventure travel.  Endemic birds here include the green-billed coucal and Ceylon spurfowl ... more

Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve


Sinharaja is Sri Lanka's last area of primary (unlogged) lowland rainforest. Amongst trees reaching 45m, reside 19 out of Sri Lanka 20 endemic birds, primates, orchids, tree frogs. Sinharaja is a highly rewarding rainforest experience with one of our expert guides... more

Tissamaharama Wetlands

Tissamaharama Wetlands are adjacent to the pretty Tissa Wewa Reservoir which was built in the 2nd Century BC by King Kavantissa. Along the shore  we can find flocks of aquatic birds including spot-billed pelicans, stork-billed kingfishers and lesser whistling ducks... more

Yala National Park

Yala National Park is most famous for its concentrated population of leopards and elephants. Your chances of seeing leopards here are pretty much as high as anywhere in the world. This beautiful coastal savannah and woodland reserve in southern Sri Lanka... more


Sample 12 Day Itinerary

This is a tailor made itinerary, so you can enlarge or reduce this itinerary as needed. As a consequence, some special interest species are listed for more than one location.

Day 1: Arrive in Colombo

Arrive Colombo where you will be met and transferred privately to a centrally located premium oceanside hotel. You may have time to enjoy some fine Ceylon tea on the verandah overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Day 2: Colombo to Kitulgala Forest Reserve

You private guide will come to your hotel this morning and provide a briefing on your birdwatching ahead. You will head to the Kitulgala Forest Reserve. The forest here is mainly secondary, but much to the liking of many bird species. Some birds we will be on the lookout for will include one of Sri Lanka's most endangered endemics: the Serendib Scops-Owl. You will also be watching out for:

Chestnut-backed Owlet
Brown Hawk-Owl
Yellow-fronted Barbet
Dark-fronted Babbler
Black-hooded Oriole
Ceylon Hill-myna
Black-throated Munia
Ceylon Rufous Babbler
Ceylon Frogmouth
Black-naped Blue Monarch

Lunch, dinner and your overnight stay will be in Kitulgala.

Day 3: Kitulgala Forest Reserve

You will spend the whole day in Kitulgala. Additional species in focus will be:

Ceylon Junglefowl
Ceylon Green-pigeon
Ceylon Hanging-parrot
Black Eagle
Rufous-bellied Eagle
Ceylon Spurfowl
Layard's Parakeet
Green-billed Coucal
Ceylon Swallow
Ceylon Grey Hornbill
Black-capped Bulbul
Gold-fronted Leafbird
Spot-winged Ground-thrush
Legge's Flowerpecker
Brown-capped Babbler
Ceylon Crested Drongo

Day 4: Kitulgala - Ratnapura - Sinharaja

After breakfast your guide will take you to Ratnapura where there can be good birdwatching in the Inn gardens there. Potential species we might spot here include:

Yellow-fronted Barbet
Plum-headed Parakeet  
Ceylon Small Barbet
Forest Wagtail
Asian Flycatcher
Loten's Sunbird
Purple-rumped Sunbird
Ceylon Hanging Parrakeet
Gold-fronted Leafbird

Lunch at Ratnapura. Dinner and accommodation at Sinharaja.

Day 5: Sinharaja Rainforest

Sri Lanka would not be the same without its one completely primary rainforest reserve, Sinharaja. You will spend the whole day exploring this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Bird species you can hope to see not already listed include:

Malabar Trogon
Yellow-Browed Bulbul
Himalayan Black Bulbul
Ceylon Spurfowl
Ceylon Junglefowl
Ceylon Woodpigeon
Crested Goshawk
Besra Sparrowhawk
Rufous-Bellied Eagle
Crested Serpent Eagle
Black Eagle
Mountain Hawk-Eagle
Red-Faced Malkoha
Green-Billed Coucal
Chestnut-Winged Cuckoo
Serendib Scops-Owl
Chestnut-Backed Owlet
Ceylon Frogmouth
Spot-Winged Ground Thrush
Ceylon Scaly Thrush
Ceylon Rufous Babbler
Ceylon Blue Magpie
White-Faced Starling
Asian Paradise Flycatcher
Ashy-Headed Laughing Thrush

Day 6: Sinharaja or Athwelthota Forest Reserve

The Athwelthota Forest Reserve adjoins the Sinharaja Rainforest. You have a choice which area you prefer to explore today - something you can discuss with your guide. Bird species you see in each will be very similar.

Day 7: Tissamaharama

This morning you will drive to Tissamaharama with the primary aim of spotting wetland birds. Species of note be watching out for include:

Brown Fish-owl
Stork-billed Kingfisher
Spot-billed Pelican
Black-crowned Night-heron
Yellow Bittern     Black Bittern
Lesser Whistling-duck
Cotton Teal
Oriental Darter
Purple Heron
Brahminy Kite     Pied Crested Cuckoo
Indian Scops-owl
White-naped Flameback
Indian Reed-warbler
Baya Weaver

Day 8: Yala National Park & Bundala

This morning you will head into the Yala National Park. You may find it difficult to ignore its mammals, of which leopards are never a sight to scoff at - nor the Asian Elephant or if really lucky a Sloth Bear. Species of bird your guide will be watching out for will be:

Mongolian Plover
Greater Sand Plover
Marsh Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper
Little Stint
Bengal Bushlark
Little-Ringed Kentish
Ashy-Crowned Finch-Lark
Brahminy Starling
Rosy Starling
Painted Stork
Black-Necked Stork
Lesser Adjutant
Black-Winged Stilt
Eurasian Stone Curlew
Great Thick-Knee
Small Pratincole
Yellow-Wattled Lapwing
Red-Wattled Lapwing
Pacific Golden Plover
Grey Plover

In the afternoon you will head by 4WD into the Bundala National Park. Once again, it will be difficult for mammals such as elephants, water buffalo, golden jackals and mongooses to go unnoticed if they pass, but of avian interest you might see:

Greater flamingos
Watercock Northern Pintail
Great Thick-Knee Garganey
Eurasian Stone Curlew
Oriental Skylark
Great-Crested Tern
Small Pratincole
Pacific Golden Plover
Grey Plover
Little-Ringed Plover
Kentish Plover
Mongolian Plover
Greater Sand Plover
Marsh Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Terek Sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper
Little Stint
Brown-Headed Gull
Caspian Tern     Rosy Starling
Lesser-Crested Tern
Gull-Billed Tern
Whiskered Tern
White-Winged Tern
Saunders Tern
Little Tern
Brahminy Starling

Day 9: Nuwara Eliya

This morning your guide will drive you to Nuwara Eliya, heading to Victoria Park for birdwatching. Nuwara Eliya is higher altitude (1,868m / 6,128 feet) than the locations you will have been to so far, with a distinctly English atmosphere about the climate. Birds you might see here include:

Ceylon White-Eye
Kashmir Flycatcher
Indian Pitta
Forest Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Yellow-Eared Bulbul
Indian Blue Robin
Pied Ground-Thrush

Lunch, dinner and overnight in Nuwara Eliya

Day 10: Horton Plains National Park & Nuwara Eliya

You will make a very early start, heading 20 miles from Nuwara Eliya to the Horton Plains National Park. This park is an important watershed for major rivers in Sri Lanka and is not only a haven for birds, but for many plants too. Almost 750 species of plant have been found here, including orchids of which 16 are endemic to Sri Lanka. The Horton Plains form the highest plateau in Sri Lanka, located at the foot of two of Sri Lanka highest peaks: Kirigalpotta (2,395m) and Tatapola (2,359m).

Birdwatching opportunities might include:

Ceylon Whistling Thrush
Ceylon Scaly Thrush
Ceylon Wood Pigeon
Yellow-Eared Bulbul
Pied Bush Chat
Sri Lanka Bush-Warbler
Grey-Headed Canary
Kashmir Flycatcher
Dusky Blue Flycatcher
Velvet-Fronted Nuthatch
Ceylon White-Eye

In the afternoon, birdwatching will be in the Nuwara Eliya area with potential species to include:

Sri Lanka Bush-warbler
Rusty-rumped Warbler
Pied Bushchat
Ceylon Woodpigeon
Forest Wagtail
Pied Flycatcher-shrike
Yellow-eared Bulbul
Ceylon Scaly Thrush
Ceylon White-eye
Large-billed Leaf-warbler
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch
Kashmir Flycatcher
Dusky Blue Flycatcher

Lunch, dinner and overnight in Nuwara Eliya

Day 11: Nuwara Eliya - Kandy - Colombo

After breakfast your guide will take you to Kandy where you will stop for lunch.

From Kandy you will be driven to a lovely coastal hotel to absorb the Indian Ocean before heading home.

Day 12: Depart Colombo

Check out of hotel and private transfer to the airport for your flight home.


Enquire / Book 13 Feb - 31 Dec 2024 - from £ 1,980
from US$ 2,380

12-days Privately Guided Sample Itinerary
Talk to us to tailor this journey to your own interests & needs

Enquire / Book 01 Jan - 31 Dec 2025 - £ 2,180
US$ 2,620

12-days Privately Guided Sample Itinerary
Talk to us to tailor this journey to your own interests & needs

Price per person sharing (*based on 2 people travelling)
Price will be less for 3 or more people

Single room occupancy*: 
2024: add £310  / US$370
2025: add £340 / US$395

Prices include:
- Expert private guide
- Private transportation - 4WD in national parks
- All accommodation 2  - 4 star (upgrades available)
- All meals outside of Colombo
- Breakfasts in Colombo
- Park entrance fees

Not included
- International flights
- Optional activities (such as temple visits)
- Tips & gratuities
- Video and camera permits
- Beverages

  • Blue Magpie
  • Birdwatching Guide in Sri Lanka !
  • Crested Hawk Eagle - Charlotte Caffrey
  • White Throated Kingfisher - Ralph Pannell
  • Serendip Scops Owl
  • Sri Lanka (Ceylon) Hanging Parrot
  • Brown Wood Owl

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka National Park & Reserve Guides

Sri Lanka Cultural Sites & Monuments Guide

  • Grey Headed Canary Flycatcher
  • Sri Lanka Frogmouth - Ralph Pannell
  • Layards Parakeet
  • Yellow Eared Bulbul
View all
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