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 The Sinharaja Reserve is rich in bird life with an impressive 147 species recorded to date. It is also the only locality where 18 out of 20 birds species endemic to Sri Lanka may be viewed. Many of these endemic birds have been indicated in Table 10 and Figure 11. Interestingly, few endemic and other species thought to be confined to the hill-zone have also been sighted at Sinharaja viz. the White-eye, the Scaly Thrush(Zoothera dauma), the Wood Pigeon (Columba torrigtoni), the Dusky Blue Flycatcher(Muscicapa sordida) and the Yellow-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus penicillatus). The wide variety of habitat-specific birds seen in Sinharaja is due to the continuous expanse of forest ranging from 300 to 1,500 meters, which provides the habitat of the forest is comparatively better studied than the other groups of animals. These studies include an inventory of the species; more detailed studies on population dynamics, feeding activity and other behavior patterns are currently in progress.

                        Among the birds recorded in the western sector of the Sinharaja, 13% were migrants. Of the resident species, 18% were confined to the heavily forested areas and 10% to village home-gardens and peripheral scrub areas. At least 36% of the species were common to the forest as well as to outside habitats. This is mainly due to the spread of secondary scrub areas into the forest particularly along logging roads. Data available indicates that most bird species are habitat sensitive and likely to be eliminated if forest areas are disturbed. 56% of the species are either rare or have low population densities. Of the 42% classified as common, a large proportion, 68% were confined to heavily forested undisturbed areas. Meanwhile, the International Council for Birds Preservation (ICBP) world list of threatened bird species for 1989, includes several species found at Sinharaja such as the Blue Magpie, the White-headed Starling, the Ashy-headed Babbler, the Green-billed Coucal, the Red-faced Malkoha, the Spotted-winged Thrush and the Wood Pigeon.

  Sri Lanka Blue Magpie-(Urocissa ornata)

          This beautiful endemic bird is most appropriately called locally as "Kehibella"-meaning "beautiful damsel of the forest" according to same etymologists it is a social species living in small groups of 4 - 6 individuals outside the breeding season. During the breeding season the pairs move out but remain not far away from the rest of its social members. they feed mainly on insects, small lizards ect. Its distribution is confined to the forest away from human habitations. 

  White-headed Starling
(Sturnus senex)
  Red-faced Malkoha
(Phaenicophaeous pyrrhocephalus)
  The Sri Lanka Spur Fowl
(Galloperdix bicalcarata)
  Sri Lanka Jungle fowl
(Gallus lafayettii)

Chaucidium radiatum 
(Glaucidium radiatum)

  Southern Scimitar Babbler
(Pomatorhinus horsfieldii)
  Grey Hornbill
(Tockus griseus)
  Tragon (Harpactes fasciatus)


Mixed species bird flocks are one of the most interesting experiences of the forest. This peculiar aggregation of birds, is thought to be a strategy for improving feeding efficiency and protection against predators. Observations made on at least 100 such flock at Sinharaja, revel that over 40 species of birds, including 12 endemic species, participate in flocks (Table 10). Bird flocks shows a distribution pattern that corresponds closely with the stratified vegetation structure. Different groups of species occupy the forest floor, undergrowth, mid canopy and high canopy (Figure 11). Flocks are also regularly accompanied by animals such as the Giant Squirrel, the Jungle Squirrel, the Purple-faced Leaf Monkey and the Mouse Deer.

                        Bird ringing has also been carried out regularly at Sinharaja since 1983, mainly to determine the home-range of bird species. So far 164 birds belonging to 32 species have been ringed. This method is also useful for the study of migrant species. In the Sinharaja, three important migrant species have been captured, the Layard's Flycatcher, the Indian Blue Chat and the Broen Shrike. These were recaptured in the same location during successive year, indicating site specificity of species during migration.                

Table 10. Status of participant species in the mixed-species foraging bird flocks.

Flock Status Common Name Species Name

Percentage occurrence in flocks

  Crested Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus 86
*Sri Lanka Rufous Babbler Turdoides rufescens 82
*Yellow-fronted Barbet Megalaima flavifrons 73
*Sri Lanka White-eye Zosterops ceylonensis 63
 Yellow-browed Bulbul Hypsipetes indicus 61
*White-headed Starling Sturnus senex 53
Regular  Trogon Harpactes fasciatus 47
 Orange Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus 46
 Yellow-naped Woodpecker Picus chlorolophus 46
 Red-faced Malkoha Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus 45
*Ashy-headed Babbler Garrulax cinereifrons 42
 Azure Flycatcher Monarcha azurea 39
 Pied Shrike Hemipus picatus 36
 Black-fronted Babbler Rhopocichla atriceps 34
*Legge's Flowerpecker Dicaeum vincens 33
 Tickell's Flowerpecker Dicaeum erythrorhynchos 33
 Velvet-fronted Nuthatch Sitta frontalis 31
Occasional *Layard's Parakeet Psittacula calthorpae 29
 Black-capped Bulbul Pycnonotus melanicterus 29
 Southern Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus horsfieldii 25
 Black Bulbul Hypsipetes madagascariensis 23
 Crimson-backed Woodpecker Chrysocolaptes lucidus 23
Rare  Purple-rumped Sunbird Nectarinia zeylonica 17
*Sri Lanka Grackle Gracula ptilogenys 16
 Greenish Tree-Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides 14
*Sri Lanka Lorikeet Loriculus beryllinus 12
 Orange-breasted Blue Flycatcher Muscicapa tickelliae 12
 White-vented Drongo Dicrurus caerulescens 11
Very rare  Common Iora Aegithina tiphia 10
 Large-billed Tree-Warbler Phylloscopus magnirostris 08
 Grey Tit Parus major 07
 Gold-fronted Chloropsis Chloropsis aurifrons 07
 Black-headed Oriole Oriolus xanthornus 07
 Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi 03
*Spotted-winged Thrush Zoothera spiloptera 02
 Bronze-winged Dove Chalcophaps indica 02
 Red-winged Crested-Cuckoo Clamator coromandus 1
 White-backed Munia Lonchura striata 1
 Brown Shrike Lanius criststus 1
 Black-headed Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina melanoptera 1
 *Sri Lanka Brown-capped Babbler Pellorneum fuscocapillum 1
 Indian Blue Chat Erithacus brunneus 1
* Endemic species

Figure 11. Distribution of birds within the forest canopy.

Common Name Scientific Name Common Name Scientific Name
 1 Crested Serpent-Eagle Spilornis cheela 23 *Sri Lanka Rufous Babbler (F)
 2 Mountain Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus nipalensis 24 Southern Scimitar Babbler (F)
 3 Black Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis 25 Purple-rumped Sunbird (F)
 4 Black Bulbul (F) 26 *Green-billed Coucal Centropus Chlororhynchus
 5 *Whire-headed Starling (F) 27 Yellow-browed Bulbul (F)
 6 Broad-billed Roller Eurystomus orientalis 28 Black-capped Bulbul (F)
 7 *Sri Lanka Lorikeet (F) 29 Trogon (F)
 8 *Sri Lanka Grackle (F) 30 Common Iora (F)
 9 Red-faced Malkoha (F) 31 Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (F)
10 *Layard's Parakeet (F) 32 Crimson-backed Woodpecker (F)
11 Orange Minivet (F) 33 Yellow-naped Woodpecker (F)
12 Crested Drongo (F) 34 *Ashy-headed Babbler (F)
13 White-vented Drongo (F) 35 Orange-brested Blue Flycatcher (F)
14 Grey Tit (F) 36 Black-fronted Babbler (F)
15 Gold-fronted Chloropsis (F) 37 *Sri Lanka Brown-capped Babbler (F)
16 *Yellow-fronted Barbet (F) 38 *Spotted-winged Thrush (F)
17 Pied Shrike (F) 39 *Sri Lanka Spurfowl Galloperdix bicalcarata
18 *Sri Lanka Blue Magpie Cissa ornata 40 *Sri Lanka Junglefoel Gallus lafayettii
19 Azure Flycatcher (F)  
20 *Sri Lanka White-Eye (F)
21 *Legge's Flowerpecker (F)
22 Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus