List of birds of Sri Lanka
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|Wildlife of Sri Lanka|
Sri Lanka is a tropical island situated close to the southern tip of India. The bird life of Sri Lanka is very rich for its size and about 433 species have been recorded. In addition to the many resident birds, a considerable number of migratory species winter in the country to escape their northern breeding grounds.
There are 233 species which are resident, of which 26 are endemic. The other resident species are also found in the nearby Indian mainland, but over 80 have developed distinct Sri Lankan races. Some of these races are very different in their plumage characteristics from the related forms in India.
Bird distribution in Sri Lanka is largely determined by its climatic zones. The dry zone is largest of the three, covering more than half of the island, with a prolonged dry and hot period and only one monsoon (the north east monsoon from October to January).
The central hill zone rises to over 2450 m (8-10,000 ft) and has a cool temperate climate. Most of the 26 endemic species are confined to the wet and the hill zones, with only a few extending into the dry zone as well.
Recent updates and sighting information can be obtained through the Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka website. The following list is prepared according to An Illustrated Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka on 2010 by Sarath Kotagama and Gamini Ratnavira.
Grebes are small to medium-sized diving birds. They breed on fresh water, but often visit the sea whilst migrating and in winter. They have lobed toes and are excellent swimmers and divers; however, their feet are placed far back on their bodies, making them quite ungainly on land. There are 19 species worldwide. Of these, one species has been recorded in Sri Lanka.
|Little grebe||Tachybaptus ruficollis||Resident|
Shearwaters and petrels
The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterised by united nostrils with medium septum and a long outer functional primary. There are 75 species worldwide of which twelve have occurred in Sri Lanka.
|Cape petrel||Daption capense|
|Barau's petrel||Pterodroma baraui|
|Bulwer's petrel||Bulweria bulwerii|
|Jouanin's petrel||Bulweria fallax|
|Streaked shearwater||Calonectris leucomelas|
|Flesh-footed shearwater||Ardenna cameipes|
|Wedge-tailed shearwater||Ardenna pacificus|
|Sooty shearwater||Ardenna griseus|
|Short-tailed shearwater||Ardenna tenuirostris|
|Persian shearwater||Puffinus persicus|
Storm-petrels are small birds which spend most of their lives at sea, coming ashore only to breed. They feed on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering or pattering across the water. Their flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like. There are 22 species worldwide, two of which has been recorded in Sri Lanka.
|Wilson's storm petrel||Oceanites oceanicus|
|Swinhoe's storm petrel||Hydrobates monorhis|
Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their heads and long wings have black markings. There are three species worldwide of which two have occurred in Sri Lanka.
|Red-tailed tropicbird||Phaethon rubricauda|
|White-tailed tropicbird||Phaethon lepturus|
Pelicans are large water birds with a distinctive pouch under their beak. As with other members of the order Pelecaniformes, they have webbed feet with four toes. There are eight species worldwide of which three occur in Sri Lanka.
|Spot-billed pelican||Pelecanus philippensis||Resident, but rare, probably once bred. Globally threatened|
|Dalmatian pelican||Pelecanus crispus||Migrant|
|Great white pelican||Pelecanus onocrotalus||Migrant|
|Masked booby||Sula dactylatra|
|Red-footed booby||Sula sula|
|Brown booby||Sula leucogaster|
Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium to large coastal, fish-eating seabirds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage colouration varies; the majority of species have mainly dark plumage, but some are pied black and white, and a few are more colourful. There are 38 members of this family worldwide, of which three are resident in Sri Lanka.
|Indian cormorant||Phalacrocorax fuscicollis||Resident|
|Great cormorant||Phalacrocorax carbo||Resident|
|Little cormorant||Microcarbo niger||Resident|
Darters are often called "snake-birds" because they have long thin necks, which gives a snake-like appearance when they swim with their bodies submerged. The males have black and dark-brown plumage, an erectile crest on the nape, and a larger bill than the female. The females have much paler plumage, especially on the neck and underparts. The darters have completely webbed feet and their legs are short and set far back on the body. Their plumage is somewhat permeable, like that of cormorants, and they spread their wings to dry after diving. There are four species worldwide, of which one is resident in Sri Lanka.
|Oriental darter||Anhinga melanogaster||Resident, but rare and globally threatened, formerly bred|
Frigatebirds are large seabirds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black and white or completely black, with long wings and deeply forked tails. The males have coloured inflatable throat pouches. They do not swim or walk and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan-to-body-weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week. There are five species worldwide of which three occur in Sri Lanka. None are resident.
|Christmas frigatebird||Fregata andrewsi|
|Great frigatebird||Fregata minor|
|Lesser frigatebird||Fregata ariel|
Bitterns, herons and egrets
The family Ardeidae contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more wary. Unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of this family fly with their necks retracted. There are 61 species worldwide of which 17 occur in Sri Lanka.
|Grey heron||Ardea cinerea||Resident|
|Goliath heron||Ardea goliath|
|Purple heron||Ardea purpurea||Resident|
|Eastern great egret||Ardea modesta||Resident|
|Intermediate egret||Egretta intermedia||Resident|
|Little egret||Egretta garzetta||Resident|
|Western reef egret||Egretta gularis||Resident, globally vulnerable|
|Cattle egret||Bubulcus ibis||Resident|
|Indian pond heron||Ardeola grayii||Resident|
|Chinese pond heron||Ardeola bacchus|
|Striated heron||Butorides striata||Resident|
|Black-crowned night heron||Nycticorax nycticorax||Resident|
|Malayan night heron||Gorsachius melanolophus|
|Yellow bittern||Ixobrychus sinensis||Resident|
|Cinnamon bittern||Ixobrychus cinnamomeus||Resident|
|Black bittern||Ixobrychus flavicollis||Resident|
|Eurasian bittern||Botaurus stellaris|
Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked, wading birds with long, stout bills. Storks are virtually mute, but bill-clattering is an important mode of communication at the nest. Their nests can be large and may be reused for many years. Many species are migratory. There are 19 species worldwide of which seven occur in Sri Lanka.
|Painted stork||Mycteria leucocephala||Resident|
|Asian openbill||Anastomus oscitans||Resident|
|Black stork||Ciconia nigra|
|Woolly-necked stork||Ciconia episcopus||Resident|
|White stork||Ciconia ciconia|
|Black-necked stork||Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus||Resident, globally threatened|
|Lesser adjutant||Leptoptilos javanicus||Resident|
Ibises and spoonbills
Threskiornithidae is a family of large terrestrial and wading birds which comprises the ibises and spoonbills. Its members have long, broad wings with 11 primary and about 20 secondary flight feathers. They are strong fliers and, despite their size and weight, very capable soarers. There are 36 species worldwide of which three occur in Sir Lanka.
|Black-headed ibis||Threskiornis melanocephalus||Resident, globally threatened|
|Glossy ibis||Plegadis falcinellus|
|Common spoonbill||Platalea leucorodia||Resident, globally endangered|
|Lesser flamingo||Phoenicopterus minor|
|Greater flamingo||Phoenicopterus ruber|
Ducks, geese and swans
The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These birds are adapted to an aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating. There are 131 species worldwide of which 18 occur in Sri Lanka.
|Fulvous whistling duck||Dendrocygna bicolor|
|Lesser whistling duck||Dendrocygna javanica||Resident|
|Greylag goose||Anser anser|
|Ruddy shelduck||Tadorna ferruginea|
|Comb duck||Sarkidiornis melanotos|
|Cotton pygmy goose||Nettapus coromandelianus||Resident|
|Eurasian wigeon||Anas penelope|
|Common teal||Anas crecca|
|Spot-billed duck||Anas poecilorhyncha|
|Northern pintail||Anas acuta|
|Northern shoveler||Anas clypeata|
|Marbled teal||Marmaronetta angustirostris|
|Red-crested pochard||Netta rufina|
|Common pochard||Aythya ferina|
|Tufted duck||Aythya fuligula|
The Pandionidae family contains only one species, the osprey. The osprey is a medium-large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution.
- Osprey, Pandion haliaetus
Eagles, hawks, kites, and allies
Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey, which includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons and keen eyesight.
- Jerdon's baza, Aviceda jerdoni
- Black baza, Aviceda leuphotes
- Crested honey buzzard, Pernis ptilorhynchus
- Black-winged kite, Elanus caeruleus** Black kite, Milvus migrans
- Brahminy kite, Haliastur indus
- White-bellied sea eagle, Haliaeetus leucogaster
- Grey-headed fish eagle, Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus
- Egyptian vulture, Neophron percnopterus
- Crested serpent eagle, Spilornis cheela
- Pallid harrier, Circus macrourus
- Pied harrier, Circus melanoleucos
- Montagu's harrier, Circus pygargus
- Western marsh harrier, Circus aeruginosus
- Crested goshawk, Accipiter trivirgatus
- Shikra, Accipiter badius
- Besra, Accipiter virgatus
- Common buzzard, Buteo buteo
- Long-legged buzzard, Buteo rufinus
- Black eagle, Ictinaetus malaiensis
- Bonelli's eagle, Aquila fasciata
- Booted eagle, Hieraaetus pennatus
- Rufous-bellied eagle, Lophotriorchis kieneri
- Changeable hawk-eagle, Nisaetus cirrhatus
- Legge's hawk-eagle, Nisaetus kelaarti
Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey. They differ from hawks, eagles and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their talons.
- Lesser kestrel, Falco naumanni
- Common kestrel, Falco tinnunculus
- Amur falcon, Falco amurensis
- Red-necked falcon, Falco chicquera
- Oriental hobby, Falco severus
- Eastern peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus calidus
- Shaheen falcon, Falco peregrinus peregrinator
Pheasants and partridges
The Phasianidae are a family of terrestrial birds consisting of quails, partridges, snowcocks, francolins, spurfowls, tragopans, monals, pheasants, peafowls and jungle fowls. In general, they are plump and have broad, relatively short wings.
- Painted francolin, Francolinus pictus
- Grey francolin, Francolinus pondicerianus
- Rain quail, Coturnix coromandelica
- Blue-breasted quail, Coturnix chinensis
- Jungle bush quail, Perdicula asiatica
- Sri Lanka spurfowl, Galloperdix bicalcarata - endemic
- Sri Lanka junglefowl, Gallus lafayettii - endemic
- Sri Lanka peafowl, Pavo cristatus singhalensis
Rails, crakes, gallinules and coots
Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots and gallinules. Typically they inhabit dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, making them difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs and long toes which are well adapted to soft uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and to be weak fliers.
- Slaty-breasted rail, Rallus striatus
- Water rail, Rallus aquaticus
- Slaty-legged crake, Rallina eurizonoides
- Corncrake, Crex crex
- Baillon's crake, Porzana pusilla
- Ruddy-breasted crake, Porzana fusca
- White-breasted waterhen, Amaurornis phoenicurus
- Watercock, Gallicrex cinerea
- Common moorhen, Gallinula chloropus
- Grey-headed swamphen, Porphyrio poliocephalus
- Common coot, Fulica atra
The buttonquails are small, drab, running birds which resemble the true quails. The female is the brighter of the sexes and initiates courtship.
The jacanas are a group of tropical waders in the family Jacanidae. They are found throughout the tropics. They are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes that are their preferred habitat.
- Pheasant-tailed jacana, Hydrophasianus chirurgus
Painted-snipe are short-legged, long-billed birds similar in shape to the true snipes, but more brightly coloured.
- Greater painted-snipe, Rostratula benghalensis
The crab-plover is related to the waders. It resembles a plover but with very long grey legs and a strong heavy black bill similar to a tern. It has black-and-white plumage, a long neck, partially webbed feet and a bill designed for eating crabs.
- Crab-plover, Dromas ardeola
- Common pied oystercatcher, Haematopus ostralegus
Avocets and stilts
Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills.
Stone-curlews are a group of largely tropical waders in the family Burhinidae. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone, with some species also breeding in temperate Europe and Australia. They are medium to large waders with strong black or yellow-black bills, large yellow eyes and cryptic plumage. Despite being classed as waders, most species have a preference for arid or semi-arid habitats.
Pratincoles and coursers
Glareolidae is a family of wading birds comprising the pratincoles, which have short legs, long pointed wings and long forked tails, and the coursers, which have long legs, short wings and long, pointed bills which curve downwards.
- Indian courser, Cursorius coromandelicus
- Collared pratincole, Glareola pratincola
- Oriental pratincole, Glareola maldivarum
- Small pratincole, Glareola lactea
Plovers and lapwings
The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water.
- Yellow-wattled lapwing, Vanellus malabaricus
- Sociable lapwing, Chettusia gregaria
- Red-wattled lapwing, Vanellus indicus
- Pacific golden plover, Pluvialis fulva
- Grey plover, Pluvialis squatarola
- Common ringed plover, Charadrius hiaticula
- Long-billed plover, Charadrius placidus
- Little ringed plover, Charadrius dubius
- Kentish plover, Charadrius alesandrinus
- Mongolian plover, Charadrius mongolus
- Greater sand plover, Charadrius leschenaultii
- Caspian plover, Charadrius asiaticus
- Oriental plover, Charadrius veredus
Sandpipers and allies
Scolopacidae is a large diverse family of small to medium-sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of these species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Variation in length of legs and bills enables multiple species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food.
- Black-tailed godwit, Limosa limosa
- Bar-tailed godwit, Limosa iapponica
- Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus
- Slender-billed curlew, Numenius tenuirostris
- Eurasian curlew, Numenius arquata
- Spotted redshank, Tringa erythropus
- Common redshank, Tringa totanus
- Marsh sandpiper, Tringa stagnatilis
- Common greenshank, Tringa nebularia
- Nordmann's greenshank, Tringa guttifer
- Green sandpiper, Tringa ochropus
- Wood sandpiper, Tringa glareola
- Terek sandpiper, Xenus cinereus
- Common sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos
- Turnstone, Arenaria Interpres
- Red-necked phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus
- Eurasian woodcock, Scolopax rusticola
- Wood snipe, Gallinago nemoricola
- Pintail snipe, Gallinago stenura
- Swinhoe's snipe, Gallinago megala
- Great snipe, Gallinago media
- Common snipe, Gallinago gallinago
- Jack snipe, Lymnocryptes minimus
- Asian dowitcher, Limnodramus semipalmatus
- Red knot, Calidris canutus
- Great knot, Calidris tertuirostris
- Sanderling, Calidris alba
- Red-necked stint, Calidris ruficollis
- Little stint, Calidris minuta
- Temminck's stint, Calidris temminckii
- Long-toed stint, Calidris subminuta
- White-rumped sandpiper, Calidris fuscicollis
- Sharp-tailed sandpiper, Calidris acuminata
- Dunlin, Calidris alpina
- Curlew sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea
- Spoon-billed sandpiper, Calidris pygmeus
- Broad-billed sandpiper, Calidris falcinellus
- Buff-breasted sandpiper, Calidris subruficollis
- Ruff, Calidris pugnax
The family Stercorariidae are, in general, medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They nest on the ground in temperate and arctic regions and are long-distance migrants.
- South polar skua, Catharacta maccormicki
- Antarctic skua, Catharacta antarctica
- Pomarine jaeger, Stercorarius pomarinus
- Parasitic jaeger, Stercorarius parasiticus
Gulls, terns, and skimmers
Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds, the gulls and terns. Gulls are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. Terns are a group of generally medium to large seabirds typically with grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects off the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species known to live in excess of 30 years.
- Heuglin's gull, Larus heuglini
- Caspian gull, Larus cachinnans
- Sooty gull, Ichthyaetus hemprichii
- Pallas's gull, Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus
- Brown-headed gull, Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus
- Black-headed gull, Chroicocephalus ridibundus
- Slender-billed gull, Chroicocephalus genei
- Whiskered tern, Chlidonias hybrida
- White-winged tern, Chlidonias leucopterus
- Black tern, Chlidonias niger
- Gull-billed tern, Gelochelidon nilotica
- Caspian tern, Hydroprogne caspia
- Bridled tern, Onychoprion anaethetus
- Sooty tern, Onychoprion fuscatus
- Common tern, Sterna hirundo
- Roseate tern, Sterna dougalli
- White-cheeked tern, Sterna repressa
- Black-naped tern, Sterna sumatrana
- Great crested tern, Thalasseus bergii
- Lesser crested tern, Thalasseus bengalensis
- Sandwich tern, Thalasseus sandvicensis
- Little tern, Sternula albifrons
- Saunders's tern, Sternula saundersi
- Brown noddy, Anous stolidus
- Lesser noddy, Anous tenuirostris
- Black noddy, Anous minutus
Pigeons and doves
- Rock pigeon, Columba livia
- Sri Lanka wood pigeon, Columba torringtoniae - endemic
- Pale-capped pigeon, Columba punicea
- Oriental turtle dove, Streptopelia orientalis
- Eurasian collared dove, Streptopelia decaocto
- Red collared dove, Streptopelia tranquebarica
- Spotted dove, Spilopelia chinensis
- Common emerald dove, Chalcophaps indica
- Orange-breasted green pigeon, Treron bicincta
- Sri Lanka green pigeon, Treron pompadora
- Yellow-footed green pigeon, Treron phoenicoptera
- Green imperial pigeon, Ducula aenea
Parrots and allies
- Sri Lanka hanging parrot, Loriculus beryllinus - endemic
- Alexandrine parakeet, Psittacula eupatrtia
- Rose-ringed parakeet, Psittacula krameri
- Plum-headed parakeet, Psittacula cyanocephala
- Layard's parakeet, Psittacula calthrapae - endemic
- Chestnut-winged cuckoo, Clamator coromandus
- Pied cuckoo, Clamator jacobinus
- Common hawk-cuckoo, Hierococcyx varius
- Indian cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus
- Common cuckoo, Cuculus canorus
- Lesser cuckoo, Cuculus poliocephalus
- Banded bay cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii
- Plaintive cuckoo, Cacomantis passerinus
- Asian emerald cuckoo, Chrysococcyx maculatus
- Fork-tailed drongo-cuckoo, Surniculus dicruroides
- Asian koel, Eudynamys scolopacea
- Blue-faced malkoha, Phaenicophaeus viridirostris
- Red-faced malkoha, Phaenicophaeus pyffhocephalus - endemic
- Sirkeer malkoha, Taccocua leschenaultii
- Green-billed coucal, Centropus chlororhynchus - endemic
- Greater coucal, Centropus sinensis
- Lesser coucal, Centropus bengalensis
Barn owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons.
- Barn owl, Tyto alba
The typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk.
- Sri Lanka bay owl, Phodilus assimilis
- Oriental scops owl, Otus sunia
- Indian scops owl, Otus bakkamoena
- Serendib scops owl, Otus thilohoffmanni
- Spot-bellied eagle owl, Bubo nipalensis
- Brown fish owl, Ketupa zeylonensis
- Brown wood owl, Strix leptognammica
- Jungle owlet, Glaucidium radiatum
- Chestnut-backed owlet, Glaucidium castanotum - endemic
- Brown hawk-owl, Ninox scutulata
- Short-eared owl, Asio flammeus
The frogmouths are a group of nocturnal birds related to the nightjars. They are named for their large flattened hooked bill and huge frog-like gape, which they use to take insects.
- Sri Lanka frogmouth, Batrachostomus moniliger
Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds that usually nest on the ground. They have long wings, short legs and very short bills. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is camouflaged to resemble bark or leaves.
- Jungle nightjar, Caprimulgus indicus
- Jerdon's nightjar, Caprimulgus atripennis
- Indian nightjar, Caprimulgus asiaticus
Swifts are small birds which spend the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings which resemble a crescent or boomerang.
- Indian swiftlet, Collocalia unicolor
- Brown-backed needletail, Hirundapus giganteus
- Asian palm swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis
- Alpine swift, Tachymarptis melba
- Blyth's swift, Apus leuconyx
- Little swift, Apus affinis
The treeswifts, or crested swifts, are closely related to the true swifts. They differ from the other swifts in that they have crests, long forked tails and softer plumage.
- Grey-rumped treeswift, Hemiprocne coronata
The family Trogonidae includes trogons and quetzals. Found in tropical woodlands worldwide, they feed on insects and fruit, and their broad bills and weak legs reflect their diet and arboreal habits. Although their flight is fast, they are reluctant to fly any distance. Trogons have soft, often colourful, feathers with distinctive male and female plumage.
- Malabar trogon, Harpactes fasciatus
Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs and stubby tails.
- Pied kingfisher, Ceryle rudis
- Common kingfisher, Alcedo atthis
- Blue-eared kingfisher, Alcedo meninting
- Oriental dwarf kingfisher, Ceyx erithacus erithacus
- Stork-billed kingfisher, Halcyon capensis
- White-throated kingfisher, Halcyon smynensis
- Black-capped kingfisher, Halcyon pileata
The bee-eaters are a group of near passerine birds in the family Meropidae. Most species are found in Africa but others occur in southern Europe, Madagascar, Australia and New Guinea. They are characterised by richly coloured plumage, slender bodies and usually elongated central tail feathers. All are colourful and have long downturned bills and pointed wings, which give them a swallow-like appearance when seen from afar.
- Little green bee-eater, Merops orientalis
- Blue-tailed bee-eater, Merops philippinus
- European bee-eater, Merops apiaster
- Chestnut-headed bee-eater, Merops leschenautti
Rollers resemble crows in size and build, but are more closely related to the kingfishers and bee-eaters. They share the colourful appearance of those groups with blues and browns predominating. The two inner front toes are connected, but the outer toe is not.
Hoopoes have black, white and orangey-pink colouring with a large erectile crest on their head.
- Eurasian hoopoe, Upupa epops
Hornbills are a group of birds whose bill is shaped like a cow's horn, but without a twist, sometimes with a casque on the upper mandible. Frequently, the bill is brightly coloured.
- Sri Lanka grey hornbill, Ocyceros gingalensis - endemic
- Malabar pied hornbill, Anthracoceros coronatus
The barbets are plump birds, with short necks and large heads. They get their name from the bristles which fringe their heavy bills. Most species are brightly coloured.
- Brown-headed barbet, Psilopogon zeylanicus
- Yellow-fronted barbet, Psilopogon flavilfrons - endemic
- Crimson-fronted barbet, Psilopogon rubricapillus - endemic
- Coppersmith barbet, Psilopogon haemacephalus
Woodpeckers and allies
Woodpeckers are small to medium-sized birds with chisel-like beaks, short legs, stiff tails and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks.
- Brown-capped pygmy woodpecker, Yungipicus nanus
- Yellow-crowned woodpecker, Leiopicus mahrattensis
- Rufous woodpecker, Micropternus brachyurus
- Lesser yellownape, Picus chlorolophus
- Streak-throated woodpecker, Picus xanthopygaeus
- Black-rumped flameback, Dinopium benghalense
- Crimson-backed flameback, Chrysocolaptes stricklandi
- White-naped woodpecker, Chrysocolaptes festivus
Pittas are medium-sized by passerine standards and are stocky, with fairly long, strong legs, short tails and stout bills. Many are brightly coloured. They spend the majority of their time on wet forest floors, eating snails, insects and similar invertebrates.
- Indian pitta, Pitta brachyura
Larks are small terrestrial birds with often extravagant songs and display flights. Most larks are fairly dull in appearance. Their food is insects and seeds.
- Rufous-winged bushlark, Mirafra assamica
- Oriental skylark, Alauda gulgula
- Ashy-crowned sparrow lark, Eremopterix grisea
Swallows and martins
The family Hirundinidae is adapted to aerial feeding. They have a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and a short bill with a wide gape. The feet are adapted to perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base.
- Pale martin, Riparia diluta
- Dusky crag martin, Hirundo concolor
- Barn swallow, Hirundo rustica
- Hill swallow, Hirundo domicola
- Wire-tailed swallow, Hirundo smithii
- Red-rumped swallow, Hirundo daurica
- Sri Lanka swallow, Hirundo hyperythra
- Streak-throated swallow, Hirundo fluvicola
Wagtails and pipits
Motacillidae is a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. They are slender, ground feeding insectivores of open country.
- Forest wagtail, Dendronanthus indicus
- Yellow wagtail, Motacilla flava
- Citrine wagtail, Motacilla citreola
- Grey wagtail, Motacilla cinerea
- White wagtail, Motacilla alba
- White-browed wagtail, Motacilla maderaspatensis
- Richard's pipit, Anthus richardi
- Paddyfield pipit, Anthus rufulus
- Blyth's pipit, Anthus godlewskii
- Olive-backed pipit, Anthus hodgsoni
The cuckooshrikes are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are predominantly greyish with white and black, although some species are brightly coloured.
- Large cuckooshrike, Coracina macei
- Black-headed cuckooshrike, Coracina melanoptera
- Small minivet, Pericrocotus cinnamomeus
- Scarlet minivet, Pericrocotus speciosus
Bulbuls are medium-sized songbirds. Some are colourful with yellow, red or orange vents, cheeks, throats or supercilia, but most are drab, with uniform olive-brown to black plumage. Some species have distinct crests.
- Black-capped bulbul, Pycnonotus melanicterus - endemic
- Red-vented bulbul, Pycnonotus cafer
- Yellow-eared bulbul, Pycnonotus pennicilitatus - endemic
- White-browed bulbul, Pycnonotus luteolus
- Yellow-browed bulbul, Iole indica
- Square-tailed bulbul, Hypsipetes ganeesa
The ioras are bulbul-like birds of open forest or thorn scrub, but whereas that group tends to be drab in colouration, ioras are sexually dimorphic, with the males being brightly plumaged in yellows and greens.
- Common iora, Aegithina tiphia
The leafbirds are small, bulbul-like birds. The males are brightly plumaged, usually in greens and yellows.
The fairy-bluebirds are bulbul-like birds of open forest or thorn scrub. The males are dark-blue and the females a duller green.
- Asian fairy bluebird, Irena puella
Order: Passeriformes Family: Laniidae Shrikes are passerine birds known for their habit of catching other birds and small animals and impaling the uneaten portions of their bodies on thorns. A typical shrike's beak is hooked, like a bird of prey.
- Brown shrike, Lanius cristatus cristatus
- Long-tailed shrike, Lanius schach
- Southern grey shrike, Lanius meridionalis
- Bay-backed shrike, Lanius vittatus
Thrushes and allies
The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs.
- Pied thrush, Geokichla wardii
- Orange-headed thrush, Geokichla citrina
- Spot-winged thrush, Geokichla spiloptera - endemic
- Sri Lanka thrush, Zoothera imbricata - endemic
- Indian blackbird, Turdus simillimus - ssp. kinnisii endemic
- Eyebrowed thrush, Turdus obscurus
- Orange-billed babbler, Turdoides rufescens - endemic
- Yellow-billed babbler, Turdoides affinis
- Ashy-headed laughingthrush, Garrulax cinereifrons - endemic
- Brown-capped babbler, Pellorneum fuscocapillum - endemic
The babblers, or timaliids, are somewhat diverse in size and colouration, but are characterised by soft fluffy plumage.
- Sri Lanka scimitar babbler, Pomatorhinus melanurus - endemic
- Tawny-bellied babbler, Dumetia hyperythra
- Dark-fronted babbler, Rhodocichla atricaps
- Sri Lanka bush warbler, Elaphrornis palliseri - endemic
- Broad-tailed grassbird, Schoenicola platyura
- Lanceolated warbler, Locustella lanceolata
- Common grasshopper warbler, Locustella naevia
- Pallas's grasshopper warbler, Locustella certhiola
- Blyth's reed warbler, Acrocephalus dumetorum
- Clamorous reed warbler, Acrocephalus stentoreus
- Booted warbler, Iduna caligata
- Greenish warbler, Phylloscopus trochiloides
- Green warbler, Phylloscopus nitidus
- Large-billed leaf warbler, Phylloscopus magnirostris
The family Sylviidae is a group of small insectivorous passerine birds. They mainly occur as breeding species, as the common name implies, in Europe, Asia and, to a lesser extent, Africa. Many species are difficult to identify by appearance, but many have distinctive songs.
Cisticolas and allies
The Cisticolidae are warblers found mainly in warmer southern regions of the Old World. They are generally very small birds of drab brown or grey appearance found in open country such as grassland or scrub.
- Zitting cisticola, Cisticola juncidis
- Grey-breasted prinia, Prinia hodgsonii
- Jungle prinia, Prinia sylvatica
- Ashy prinia, Prinia socialis
- Plain prinia, Prinia inomata'
- Common tailorbird, Orthotomus sutorius
Old World flycatchers
Old World flycatchers are a large group of small passerine birds native to the Old World. They are mainly small arboreal insectivores. The appearance of these birds is highly varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls.
- Blue rock thrush, Monticola solitarius
- Sri Lanka whistling thrush, Myophonus blighi - endemic
- Asian brown flycatcher, Muscicapa dauurica
- Brown-breasted flycatcher, Muscicapa muttui
- Spotted flycatcher, Muscicapa striata
- Red-breasted flycatcher, Ficedula parva
- Yellow-rumped flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia
- Dull-blue flycatcher, Eumyias sordida - endemic
- Kashmir flycatcher, Ficedula subrubra
- Slaty-blue flycatcher, Ficedula tricolor
- Black-and-orange flycatcher, Ficedula nigrorufa
- White-bellied blue flycatcher, Cyornis pallipes
- Blue-throated flycatcher, Cyomis rubeculoides
- Hill blue flycatcher, Cyornis banyumas
- Tickell's blue flycatcher, Cyomis tickelliae
- Grey-headed canary flycatcher, Culicicapa ceylonensis
- Black-naped monarch, Hypothymis azurea
- Indian paradise flycatcher, Terpsiphone paradisi
- White-browed fantail, Rhipidura aureola
- Indian blue robin, Luscinia brunnea
- Black-backed robin, Saxicoloides fulicata
- Oriental magpie robin, Copsychus saularis
- Rufous-tailed scrub robin, Cercotrichas galactotes
- Bluethroat, Luscinia svecica
- White-rumped shama, Copsychus malabaricus
- Pied bushchat, Saxicola caprata
- Pied wheatear, Oenanthe pleschanka
- Desert wheatear, Oenanthe deserti
- Isabelline wheatear, Oenanthe isabellina
The Paridae are mainly small stocky woodland species with short stout bills. Some have crests. They are adaptable birds, with a mixed diet including seeds and insects.
- Cinereous tit, Parus cinereus
Nuthatches are small woodland birds. They have the unusual ability to climb down trees head first, unlike other birds which can only go upwards. Nuthatches have big heads, short tails and powerful bills and feet.
- Velvet-fronted nuthatch, Sitta frontalis
The flowerpeckers are very small, stout, often brightly coloured birds, with short tails, short thick curved bills and tubular tongues.
- Thick-billed flowerpecker, Dicaeum agile
- White-throated flowerpecker, Dicaeum vincens - endemic
- Pale-billed flowerpecker, Dicaeum erythrorhynchos
Sunbirds and spiderhunters
The sunbirds and spiderhunters are very small passerine birds which feed largely on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. Flight is fast and direct on their short wings. Most species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed.
- Purple-rumped sunbird, Nectarinia zeylonica
- Long-billed sunbird, Nectarinia lotenia
- Purple sunbird, Nectarinia asiatica
The white-eyes are small and mostly undistinguished, their plumage above being generally some dull colour like greenish-olive, but some species have a white or bright yellow throat, breast or lower parts, and several have buff flanks. As their name suggests, many species have a white ring around each eye.
Waxbills and allies
The estrildid finches are small passerine birds of the Old World tropics and Australasia. They are gregarious and often colonial seed eaters with short thick but pointed bills. They are all similar in structure and habits, but have wide variation in plumage colours and patterns.
- White-throated silverbill, Euodice malabarica
- White-rumped munia, Lonchura striata
- Scaly-breasted munia, Lonchura punctulata
- Tricoloured munia, Lonchura malacca
- Black-throated munia, Lonchura kelaarti - endemic
- Java sparrow, Lonchura oryzivora
Old World sparrows
Sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small, plump, brown or grey birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed eaters, but they also consume small insects.
- House sparrow, Passer domesticus
Weavers and allies
The weavers are small passerine birds related to the finches. They are seed-eating birds with rounded conical bills. The males of many species are brightly coloured, usually in red or yellow and black, some species show variation in colour only in the breeding season.
- Chestnut-shouldered petronia, Petronia xanthocollis
- Streaked weaver, Ploceus manyar
- Baya weaver, Ploceus philippinus
Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. Their flight is strong and direct and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country. They eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen.
- White-faced starling, Sturnornis albofrontatus - endemic
- Chestnut-tailed starling, Sturnia malabarica
- Brahminy starling, Sturnia pagodarurn
- Rosy starling, Pastor roseus
- Common myna, Acridotheres tristis
- Sri Lanka hill myna, Gracula ptilogenys - endemic
- Common hill myna, Gracula religiosa
Old World orioles
The Old World orioles are colourful passerine birds. They are not related to the New World orioles.
- Indian golden oriole, Oriolus kundoo
- Black-naped oriole, Oriolus chinensis
- Slender-billed oriole, Oriolus tenuirostris
- Black-hooded oriole, Oriolus xanthornus
The drongos are mostly black or dark grey in colour, sometimes with metallic tints. They have long forked tails, and some Asian species have elaborate tail decorations. They have short legs and sit very upright when perched, like a shrike. They flycatch or take prey from the ground.
- Black drongo, Dicrurus macrocercus
- Grey drongo, Dicrurus leucophaeus
- White-bellied drongo, Dicrurus caerulescens
- Sri Lanka drongo, Dicrurus lophorinus
The woodswallows are soft-plumaged, somber-coloured passerine birds. They are smooth, agile flyers with moderately large, semi-triangular wings.
- Ashy woodswallow, Artamus fuscus
Crows, jays, ravens and magpies
The family Corvidae includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size among the Passeriformes, and some of the larger species show high levels of intelligence.
- Sri Lanka blue magpie, Urocissa ornata - endemic
- House crow, Corvus splendens
- Jungle crow, Corvus macrorhynchos
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