Map of the world

  • Where to watch BIRDS and

  • other wildlife in the world
  • Photograph of Sri Lanka Blue Magpie

    A pair of endemic Sri Lanka Blue Magpies by Chris Townend.

  • Where to watch birds and wildlife in

    Photograph of Kashmir Flycatcher

    Kashmir Flycatcher at Nuwara Eliya town dump by Mark Harper.

    Best Birds and other wildlife in Sri Lanka


    Endemics 34
    Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Woodpigeon, Sri Lanka Green-pigeon, Green-billed Coucal, Red-faced Malkoha, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Serendib Scops-owl, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Sri Lanka (Crimson-fronted) Barbet, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Greater Sri Lanka (Crimson-backed) Flameback, Lesser (Red-backed) Flameback, Sri Lanka Hanging-parrot, Emerald-collared (Layard’s) Parakeet, Sri Lanka Woodshrike, Sri Lanka Drongo, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Sri Lanka (Bush-) Warbler, Sri Lanka Swallow, Black-capped Bulbul, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka White-eye, Sri Lanka Scimitar-babbler, Brown-capped Babbler, Orange-billed Babbler, Ashy-headed Laughingthrush, White-faced Starling, Sri Lanka Hill Myna, Sri Lanka (Scaly) Thrush, Spot-winged Thrush, Dull-blue Flycatcher, Sri Lanka Whistling-thrush and White-throated (Legge's) Flowerpecker.

    India and Sri Lanka 31
    Jungle Bush-quail, Painted Francolin, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Jungle Nightjar, Jerdon’s Nightjar, Indian Swiftlet, Blue-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Bay-owl, Legge’s (Mountain) Hawk-eagle, Malabar Trogon, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Orange Minivet, Indian (Large) Cuckooshrike, Marshall’s (White-tailed) Iora, White-bellied Drongo, Indian Jungle Crow (range extends to Nepal), Jerdon’s (Rufous-winged) Bushlark, Jungle Prinia (range extends to Nepal), Hill Swallow, Square-tailed (Black) Bulbul, Yellow-browed Bulbul, White-browed Bulbul, Tawny-bellied Babbler, Dark-fronted Babbler, Yellow-billed Babbler, Southern Hill Myna, Indian Blackbird, Jerdon’s (Blue-winged) Leafbird, Loten’s (Long-billed) Sunbird, Black-throated Munia and Tricoloured (Chestnut) Munia.

    Other specialities
    Spot-billed Pelican, Grey-bellied Cuckoo (mostly Nov-Mar), Sirkeer Malkoha, Indian Pitta (mostly Nov-Mar), Pied Thrush (mostly Nov-Mar), Indian Blue Robin (mostly Nov-Mar) and Kashmir Flycatcher (mostly Nov-Mar).

    Indian Peafowl, Barred Buttonquail, Oriental Darter, Indian Pond-heron, Yellow Bittern, Black-necked and Painted Storks, Lesser Adjutant, Black-headed Ibis, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea-eagle, Grey-headed Fish-eagle, Black Eagle, Great and Indian Thick-knees, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Small Pratincole, Orange-breasted Green-pigeon, Plum-headed Parakeet, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo (mostly Nov-Mar), Crested Treeswift, Alpine Swift, Brown-backed Needletail, Black-backed (Oriental) Dwarf-kingfisher, Pied, Stork-billed and White-breasted (Smyrna) Kingfishers, Blue-tailed, Chestnut-headed and Asian Green Bee-eaters, Indian Roller, Brown-headed and Coppersmith Barbets, woodpeckers including White-naped, Ashy-crowned Sparrow-lark, Ashy Woodswallow, Common Iora, Black-headed and Indian (Large) Cuckooshrikes, Small Minivet, White-bellied Drongo, White-browed Fantail, Asian Paradise-flycatcher, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Ashy Prinia, warblers, Common Tailorbird, White-rumped Shama, Indian Robin, Brahminy Starling, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Forest Wagtail (mostly Nov-Mar), Pale-billed Flowerpecker and Purple-rumped Sunbird.

    Also a chance of Greater Flamingo, Black and Cinnamon Bitterns, Watercock, Bridled Tern, Brown Noddy, Brown Fish-owl, Brown Wood-owl and Black-capped Kingfisher.

    'Pygmy' Blue Whale, Asian Elephant, Leopard, Asian Water Buffalo, (Tufted) Grey Langur, Purple-faced Leaf Monkey (endemic), Toque Macaque (endemic), Sambar, Chital, Brown (Short-tailed), Indian Grey, Ruddy and Stripe-necked Mongooses, Sri Lanka (Grizzled) Giant Squirrel (endemic), Travancore Flying Squirrel, Indian Flying Fox, and Fulvous, Greater Short-nosed and Lesser Short-nosed Fruit Bats. Also a chance of Grey Slender and Red Slender Lorises, Fishing, Jungle and Rusty-spotted Cats, Sloth Bear (especially in June), and Asian Palm, Small Indian and Sri Lankan Brown Palm Civets, and an outside chance of Indian Pangolin, Sri Lanka Spotted Chevrotain, Indian Crested Porcupine, Indian Gerbil, Sperm, Dwarf Sperm, False Killer and Bryde's Whales, and Bottlenose, Risso's, (Long-snouted) Spinner, Spotted and Striped Dolphins.

    Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
    Mugger Crocodile, Land Monitor, some very large Water Monitors, Manta Ray, flying fish, numerous coral reef fish (off Ahangama for example), and Green, Leatherback and Olive Ridley Turtles (all three mostly Apr-Jun).

    Nearly 250 species of butterfly (23 of which are endemic) including Common Birdwing, the very large Blue Mormon, Sri Lanka Tree Nymph, Banded Peacock and Red Pierrot.

    Other Natural Wonders of Sri Lanka

    'World's End' A sheer 1050 m (3445 ft) drop at the edge of the escarpment in Horton Plains NP near Nuwara Eliya.

    Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in Sri Lanka

    Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in Sri Lanka

    November to March is the best time, when Blue Whales (mostly from December) and some of the most spectacular birds which spend the northern winter on the island are usually present, including Forest Wagtail, Indian Pitta, Pied Thrush, Indian Blue Robin and Kashmir Flycatcher. The monsoon usually lasts from May until September-October.

    Recommended Bird Books etc. for Sri Lanka

    Birds of Sri Lanka by D Warakagoda et al. Helm, 2012.

    A Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka by J Harrison and T Worfolk. OUP, 2011 (Second Edition).

    Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 2012.

    A Field Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by K Kazmierczak. Helm, 2008.

    Pocket Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 1999.

    Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide Volumes 1 and 2 by P C Rasmussen and J C Anderton. Lynx Edicions and Smithsonian Institution, 2012.

    Indian Mammals: A Field Guide by V Menon. Hachette, 2014.

    Field Guide to the Mammals of the Indian Subcontinent by K K Gurung and R Singh. Helm, 1998.

    Apps etc.

    eGuide to Birds of the Indian Subcontinent.

    Where to watch birds in Asia by N Wheatley. Helm, 1996.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Asia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for Sri Lanka

    Many trip reports, some for Sri Lanka, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Sri Lanka. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Sri Lanka' below.

    Local bird and wildlife guides in Sri Lanka

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation for birders in Sri Lanka

    Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to Sri Lanka

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Sri Lanka include the following.