The species accounts are necessarily brief and have been written to convey where possible the general impression or ‘character portrait’ of a bird. This is complemented by a discussion of its distinct features, either in terms of its plumage or its habits. Descriptive information on plumage has been kept to a bare minimum where this is amply conveyed by the photographs. In species in which the sexes are different, both sexes have been described. Where a species is likely to be confused with another, the information on identification has been suitably expanded. Endemics are marked with a *.



1. Bellanwila Attidiya Sanctuary

2. Muthurajawela Marshes

3. Kitulgala or Kelani Valley Forest Reserve

4. Bodhinagala or Ingiriya Forest Reserve

5. Sinharaja Man and Biosphere Reserve

6. Gilimale Forest Reserve

7. Adam’s Peak Trail: Carney Estate

8. Uda Walawe National Park

9. Kalametiya Sanctuary

10. Karagan Lewaya

11. Hambantota Maha Lewaya

12. Embilikala Kalapuwa

13. Bundala Lewaya

14. Bundala National Park

15. Ruhunu National Park (Yala West)

16. Hakgala

17. Victoria Park

18. Horton Plains National Park

19. Udawattakele Sanctuary

20. Knuckles Range: Corbett’s Gap


Details of distribution are given for the species and vocalisations are described mostly with transcriptions where such information is helpful or aids identification. However, transcribing a bird’s call to reflect the true character of its sound is difficult, and the transcription may vary from person to person. Therefore, there is no substitute to learning the calls in the field or from commercially available tapes of bird sounds. The various aspects of a species account is not presented in a regimented order but are written to ‘go with the flow’ of each account of a species. Some of the pelagic species like Shearwaters, Petrels etc. have been excluded from the book as they are unlikely to be seen, unless on a special sea-cruise for seabirds.

In this book we follow the standard sequence of Orders and Families by Voous in the Dictionary of Birds (1985) by David Lack. The sequence proposed by Sibley and Monroe based on DNA-DNA hybridization studies is radically different from this. The common and Latin names follow Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide by Pamela Rasmussen and John Alderton.


The illustration below shows the main parts of a bird used in descriptions of plumage and anatomy. A knowledge of these terms will be useful for identification purposes.



Sourced from published literature