30 Best Places for Bird Watching in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a bird’s heaven. The Rich biodiversity island destination Sri Lanka is a recorded home to 439 birds, 236 resident birds, and 203 migrant birds. The rests are vagrants and occasional visitors; Sri Lanka has 33 endemic and 68 birds with endemic resident forms. Sri Lanka has many best places for bird watching and is one of the best birding destinations on the planet. Furthermore, nearly 200 seasonal migratory terrestrial and aquatic birds are moving into Sri Lanka from Europe during winter. We have listed the best places for birdwatching in Sri Lanka.

1. Sinharaja Rain Forest Reserve

The Sinharaja forest was initially declared a Man and Biosphere Reserve (MAB) in 1978 as suggestive and has been recognized by UNESCO as the region of its International Network of Biosphere Reserves.
The lush nature covers around 11187 ha passing the boundaries of three Districts, namely Ratnapura, Matara and Galle. This biosphere reservation is between north latitude 6º21´-6º27′ and east longitude 80º21´-80º37′. There are four passageways to pass into this forest: Ratnapura – Weddagala route, Ratnapura-Rakwana-Sooriyakanda-Ilumbakanda road, Hiniduma – Neluwa road and Deniyaya-Pallegama road. However, the reserves of this rainforest’s main entry from the Ratnapura side, most of the area belongs to Ratnapura District. More Details About Sinharaja Rain Forest Reserve 

2. Kumana National Park

Kumana National Park is famous for its avifauna, particularly its massive flocks of migratory raptors and paddling birds. This Park is 391 kilometres southeast of Colombo on the south-eastern coast of Sri Lanka. Kumana is adjacent to Yala National Park. Kumana was previously known as Yala East National Park but turned to its present name on 05 September 2006.
Kumbukkan Oya forms the southern edge of the National Park. Some 20 lagoons and tanks hold the incredible birdlife of the national Park. The lagoons are shallow, with depths more limited than 2 metres. Kumana Bird Sanctuary, declared in 1938, is held within the Kumana National Park. Kumana is one of the several significant bird nesting and breeding grounds in Sri Lanka. Two hundred fifty-five species of birds have been regarded in the national Park. Thousands of birds relocate to the Kumana swamp area annually from April- July. Unique varieties such as the Lesser Adjutant, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black-necked Stork, and GreatThick-knee are breeding inhabitants of the Kumana. More details about Kumana

3. Bundala National park

Bundala National park is found in the Hambantota District of the southern province. Bundala has initially declared a sanctuary on 05 December 1969 and was renewed into a National park on 4 th January 1993. This is the last home in the more numerous flamingo in this part of the island and is vital for elephants and a variety of threatened reptiles.
The Park contains five shallow, salty lagoons with salt pans in three interconnecting waterways and marshes, including the adjacent coast. This unique area of scenic lagoons and intertidal; mudflats where the wintering birds relax and feed, golden shores and dunes snubbed by nesting sea turtles. The Park is also a heaven for 149 resident migratory birds, and the region of the Park is 6,216ha. Plants are tropical and monsoonal, with a base annual temperature of 27 ° C. Annual rainfall ranges from 900mm to 1300mm, with an extended dry period from May to September. More Details about Bundala

4. Chundikulam National Park

Previously known as the Chundikulam sanctuary, presently, the Sri Lanka government-linked numerous forests nearby to formulate a larger protected zone as the Chundikulam National Park in 2015. The Park has widespread mangrove swamps and seagrass beds. Many birds in the Park are black-tailed godwit, black-winged stilt, brown-headed gull, common sandpiper, greater flamingos, and several others. Deer and crocodiles can be seen in the Park as well. The statement indicates that the leopards and bears live in the Chundikulam national park, but they are not easily found because they are not used to visitors and are very shy. More Details about Chundikulam national park 

5. Gal Oya National Park

Gal Oya National Park was founded in 1954 to preserve the catchment area of the Senanayake Samudra, Sri Lanka’s most extensive inland form of water. It is among the most scenically stunning views in Sri Lanka, with the lake encircled by an inspiring backdrop of rocky, forested hillsides. Senanayake Samudra reservoir carries a critical fishery and is an excellent irrigation source.
Gal Oya National Park is a secluded wildlife park of over 25,000 hectares of dense evergreen forest and open savannahs alongside quiet Senanayake Samudra in the dry zone. Moreover, Gal Oya is the only national Park where boats lead safaris, allowing closer than usual wildlife encounters.
Gal Oya National Park is a habitat for 32 species, including langurs, toque macaques, leopards, sloth bears, wild boar, water buffaloes and deer, and about 150 birds of two distinct ecological categories, the fish-eating and fruit-eating species. Incredibly unique endemics, the Red-faced Malkoha and Sri Lanka Spurfowl, and the outstanding breeding occupant in the dry zone, the Painted Partridge, for which this region is the last refuge. More Details about Gal Oya 

6. Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary

Kalametiya is a nearshore wetland region with a particularly rich bio-diversity situated along with Rekawa and Ussangoda in the district of Hambantota, Down South of Sri Lanka. The land of outstanding beauty is littered with considerable bays, lagoons, rocky outcrops and golden beaches, extending from around Tangalle to Hambantota.
Nourishing Sanctuary for a few remaining nationally endangered birdlife, bird watching in this significant location will make your trip to Sri Lanka. Furthermore, Find a broad range of wetland birds, such as Slatybreasted Crake, Black Bittern, Watercock Grey Mongoose, and Hanuman Langur. More Details about Kalamatiya Bird Sanctuary

7. Bodhinagala Sanctuary

Bodhinagala Sanctuary, also named Ingiriya Forest Reserve, is a secondary lowland rainforest patch in Kalutara District, 30 km from the West Coast. The Bodhinagala Forest is located to the southwest of Ingiriya town. The reserve covers a slightly hilly area of 20 hectares, stretching between the Panadura-Ratnapura main road A8 and the Kalu Ganga, one of Sri Lanka’s largest rivers, which is untouched and quite idyllic in this region.
The avifauna of Bodhinagala, home to 151 recorded bird species, is significant as one of the best sites to spot the Green-Billed Coucal, one of Sri Lanka’s rarest endemic bird species. Other endemic birds in Bodhinagala are Black-capped Bulbul, Ceylon Spurfowl, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Ceylon Small Barbet, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Layard’s Parakeet, Sri Lanka drongo Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Spot-winged Thrush. Endemics to South Asia occurring in Bodhinagala are the Ceylon Frogmouth, Dark-fronted Babbler, and the Malabar Trogon. In addition, Emerald Dove, Crested Drongo, and Black-napped Monarch are common birds.

8. Weerawila Bird Sanctuary

Weerawila Bird Sanctuary is where the most impressive creatures come to gather. Birds lovers, Weerawila Bird Sanctuary, is found Down south of Sri Lanka near Tissamaharamaya and claims two major reservoirs; the Weerawila reservoir and the Tissa reservoir. Thousands of migrating birds come to the Sanctuary yearly to roost and nest. While travelling, keep an eye out for water birds like the lesser flamingo, the painted stork, the spoonbill, the grey heron, the darter, the purple heron and the rare black-necked stork. Migrating birds who visit the Park include the pintail, the Eurasian curlew, and the whimbrel. They harmoniously experience the space with the wetland part of the sanctuary inhabitants like the red-wattled lapwing, the excellent stone player, and other forest varieties such as the orange-breasted green pigeon, the hornbill, and the flycatchers. More Details about Weerawila Bird Sanctuary

9. Beddegana wetland park

Beddegana wetland park is located in Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte, and a highly urban built environment sets the stage for its paradigm significance. This 18-hectare area is home to many aquatic birds and other faunal species, such as butterflies, dragonflies, and mammals endemic to Sri Lankan and Asian wetlands. Apart from that, this marsh area is a popular stopover for migratory birds. During the migratory season, one can catch sight of the diverse flocks of shorebirds or waders, including plovers and sandpipers.
It has been reported that 50 species of birds, 20 species of fish, and 119 species of butterflies make this wetland their habitat, and endangered mammals included in the IUCN red list, such as a fishing cat, are with the resident species of mammals. More Details about Beddegana wetland park

10. Kurulu Kele – Kegalle

Because of its ecological importance, Kurulukele has been designated as a Man and Biosphere Reserve. This border is located on one side until it reaches the Colombo – Kandy road and on the other until it reaches the Bandaranaike Mawatha.
It is 580-750 meters above sea level. Its size is only 13.2 hectares. A garden called Happy Garden has been established at the entrance to this forest for study and relaxation. Tapovana Aranya Senasana is also located in the middle of the woods. There are about 92 birds in Sri Lanka, of which 33 are endemic to Sri Lanka. There are also 81 types of butterflies, 25 species of reptiles and nine types of snails. There are also many types of local medicines. Many birds, butterflies and reptiles can observe in kurulu Kele. Located in Kegalle city, this forest is a beautiful laboratory for those studying the environment. More Details about Kurulu Kale -Kegalle

11. Galway’s Land National Park

Galway’s Land National Park The alone national Park located within Nuwara Eliya city limits, Galway is residence to a montane ecosystem in the cold and windy hill station of Nuwara Eliya, also the most eminent placed city in Sri Lanka. Galway’s is enhanced by its unique birds and colourful floral varieties of native and foreign influence. Simultaneously with the nearby Victoria Park, Galway is considered an important birding area in Sri Lanka. More Details about Galway’s Land National Park

12. Kitulgala forest Reserve

Kitulgala is found about 80 kilometres from Colombo on the A7 main road that heads to Nuwara Eliya through Avissawella. Kitulgala forest reserve is the perfect rainforest habitat for the lowland endemic species of birds, including the Green-bill Coucal, Red-faced Malkoha, Chestnut-backed Owlet Sri Lanka Spot-winged Thrush, Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Ceylon Jungle fowl, Grey Hornbill and Yellow-fronted Barbet. The recently found Serendib Scoops Owl was also first heard in this forest. The Earless Lizard, Kangaroo Lizard and Hump-nosed Lizard are among the reptile species and are frequently seen in the foliage along the Kelani River. More Details about Kitulgala

13.Lahugala Kitulana National Park

Lahugala National Park is a haven for bird enthusiasts, boasting a diverse avian population that adds to the park’s ecological significance. The wetland habitats created by the Lahugala, Kitulana, and Sengamuwa reservoirs provide an ideal environment for various bird species, making it a prime location for birdwatching.The park’s significance as a birding destination contributes to its overall appeal for ecotourism and conservation efforts in Sri Lanka. More Details about Lahugla

14. Mannar Bird Sanctuary

In an area of more than 4,800 hectares, the Mannar Bird Sanctuary, known as the Vankalai Lagoon, is residence to numerous migratory birds. The location was proclaimed a sanctuary by the Department of Wildlife Conservation in 2008 and delivered diverse ecosystems for the birds to live peacefully. In addition, the area provides exceptional feeding and living habitats for its large waterbird inhabitants, hosting over 20,000 waterbirds during the migrating season. As a result, the Sanctuary has been declared a Ramsar Site, keeping it a wetland site of global importance under the Ramsar Convention.  

15. Karaveddy Lagoon

Karaveddy, known as the “Coastal Strip” in the local Tamil language, is near Point Pedro. The lagoon attracts several seasonal and endemic birds. This is an exceptional place for bird watching and suitable for Sunrise and Sunset photography. More Details about Karaveddy Lagoon

16. Kanneliya Rain Forest

This lower land forest, found about 36 km to the Northeast of Galle, expands to about 5306 hectares. It is well enriched with high biodiversity, and many endemic plants are preserved here. The Kanneliya Forest reserve has much endemic flora and fauna, with 17 per cent of lowland endemic floral species confined to this forest area and 41 endemic fauna living here. Tourists who expect adventure-based tourist locations must visit Kanneliya as it is a wonderful place for hiking, natural baths, waterfalls, beautiful landscapes, and, of course, best for bird lovers. more Details about Kanneliya Forest reserve

17. Peak Wilderness Sanctuary

Peak Wilderness Sanctuary provides an ideal opportunity to observe some of the unique high-altitudinal birds in the bioregion and extends 22,379 hectares near Adams’ peak, the wet zone of Sri Lanka. In addition, the Sanctuary ecosystem provides refuge to many endemic biodiversities, making it one of Sri Lanka’s most crucial conservation locations. It is also essential as the Sanctuary that reinforces the last remnant wet zone elephant population, about 30 – 50 elephants in the country following its separation from the lowland forests. The cover also holds a spiritual and cultural value as all the footpaths to Adams Peak fall across the woods.

18. Sigiriya Sanctuary

The Sanctuary at the floor of the Sigiriya rock is the best habitat for over 65 endemic, resident and migratory birds. Consequently, an area of 5,099 hectares of woodlands, water bodies and routes surrounding Sigiriya and towards Pidurangala has lately been declared a Bird Sanctuary. Several raptors, such as the Shaheen Falcon, Grey Headed Fish Eagles, Crested Serpent Eagles and Crested Hawk Eagles, can be witnessed gliding over the zone. Furthermore, a mixture of both familiar and rare species, including the Indian Long-tailed Night-Jar, Little Scops Owl, Forest Eagle, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Green Imperial Pigeon, Open bill, Emerald Dove, Orange-headed Ground Thrush, Ceylon Jungle Fowl, Indian Blue Chat, Brown-capped Babbler, White-Rumped Shama, Black-capped Bulbul, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Brown Flycatcher, Layard’s Flycatcher, Orange Minivet, Small Minivet, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Ceylon Grey Hornbill and the Blue-faced Malkoha is often sighted in the region. More Details about Sigiriya Sanctuary

19. Makandawa Rainforest

The Makandawa Rainforest has been identified as a forest reserve since 1903, completing it one of the oldest rainforests in Sri Lanka. It is a vision that arrived true for birdwatchers who visit Sri Lanka as it allows them to watch a collection of rare species, such as the Trogon and the Black Eagle. The Sri Lanka Orange-billed babbler, the Blue Magpie, the Chestnut-backed Owlet and the Red-faced Malkoha. Scattered across over 192 hectares, the woodland habitat is home to numerous mammal, insect and amphibian species. The formatting of biodiversity in the region consists of endemic, migratory and resident bird species as well as exotic fauna and flora, making it a perfect location for bird lovers.

20. Attidiya Sanctuary

Ensconced amidst the crowded area of Attidiya, only a few minutes drive outside of Colombo, the peaceful wetlands of the Attidiya Bird Sanctuary are a habitat for 166 bird species. Birdwatching lovers should make it a point to see this great magnet. The Sanctuary is a butterfly’s empire and glimpses some rarer residents, such as the wily Indian shag, the giant spot-billed pelican and the regal white ibis.

21. Royal Forest Park (Udawatta Kele jungle)

Found on the hilly terrains of the tooth relic temple in Kandy, this forest reserve acted as the retreat for the Kandyan rulers in the ancienter periods. After that, altered into a sanctuary, it became a vital bio reserve of Kandy. The Sanctuary is laid over 104 hectares and is mainly known for its various species of birds. Delivering numerous species of birds and animals, it is one of the visiting locations in Kandy. You can also visit this site’s three Buddhist forest monasteries and wildlife. Another attraction is the three Buddhist cave dwellings. Moreover, tourists will love the thick forest cover of the area, which looks stunning in the monsoon months. More details about Udawatta

22. Anawilundawa Wetland Sanctuary

Anawilundawa Wetland Sanctuary is located in the Puttalam district close to Chilaw. The Anawilundawa is in the area of three considerably altered ecosystems; the coast, the mangroves and the water tanks giving it one of the six RAMSAR Wetlands in Sri Lanka. This unusual environmental context has delivered a convenient nesting and breeding territory for the number of species of birds.
One thousand three hundred ninety-seven hectares of forest land comprises nine tanks; six giant artificial tanks, particularly Pinkattiya, Maradansola, Anawilundawa, Mayyawa, Surawila and Vellawali and three subsidiary tanks, everyone combined with the other and working as one factor. Those tanks store water for irrigation and cultivation and serve as a natural habitat and home for 150 waterbirds and a few species of endangered Fish, Amphibians, Mammals, and Reptiles. More Details about Anawilundawa Wetland Sanctuary

23. Horton Plains National Park

Horton plain, surrounding forests, and the neighbouring Peak Wilderness connect Sri Lanka’s most significant catchment area of almost all the main rivers. The tables are also outstanding in the environments and endemic plants and animal specimens of the land wet and montane zones.
Horton plains comprise a gently fluctuating highland hill at the southern end of the central peaks massif of Sri Lanka. It is managed to the north by Mount Totupola Kanda (2,357m) and west by Mount Kirigalpotta (2,389m). Two mountains filling the Horton Plain have added immensely to its awe-inspiring physiognomy, “big worlds end” by 884m. The sparking Baker’s fall emphasizes the beauty of the foliage of the peaks encircling the plains as intermittently covered by mist. The altitude of the park covers from about 1,800m to 2,389m at the height of Kirigalpotta. The plateau at 2,100m is the most distinguished tableland in Sri Lanka. The yearly rainfall in the region is about 2540mm, but for Horton Plains, it may exceed 5000mm. Rain happens most of the year, although there is a dry season from January to March. Temperatures are moderate, with an annual mean temperature of 15ºC and ground frost is anticipated from December to February.
Horton Plains is well recognized for its rich biodiversity; its flora gave a high endemism level. 5% of varieties are determined to be endemic to Sri Lanka. More Details about Horton plains

24. Ritigala mountains range

Ritigala mountains range is near the cities of Anuradhapura and Habarana, Sri Lanka. The Mountain range of Ritigala is one of the three strict nature reserves in Sri Lanka and is five sq. km inland. The field has several peaks; the most significant rise is the Ritigala. Kodigala, or the Flag Rock, is the most eminent point in this mountain range and has a height of 2514 feet. It is additionally the highest hill between the Central Hills of Sri Lanka. The bottom part of the mountain range is the Dry Mixed Evergreen Forest prototype. The central part of the range is Tropical Montane Forest nature and the highest terrain of the Upper Montane Forest character. The mountain tops attract higher rainfall than the surrounding areas, and amidst dry weather at lower plains, the peaks get cladded with clouds and mist, lowering the temperature at the points. more details about Ritigala

25. Udawalawe National Park

Udawalawe National Park is one of the leading and most significant national parks in Sri Lanka. The Park is an important protected area home to considerable flora and fauna, and also it is a virtual environment for Sri Lankan elephants and water birds. This national Park lies on the boundary of the Uva and Sabaragamuwa provinces. The Park is 165 kilometres [103 mi] away from Colombo’s capital. More Details about Udawalawe National Park

26. Yala National Park

Yala National Park is the most beloved national Park in Sri Lanka, and it is spread across two provinces, particularly Uva & Southern. It lies within Monaragala & Hambantota districts. Yala National Park includes about 97,880.7 hectares, the diverse ecosystem extending from the Moist Monsoon Forest to the different natural compartments. Yala was identified as a protected area in 1900, 389 km2. In 1909 Yala was named Sanctuary and got a gazette as a National Park on 25 th February 1938.
Yala is located in the deepest peneplain of the island. The peneplain, flat and lightly surging, encompasses the hill country. Yala is situated in one of the agroecological zones, and the dry period is long and rough. A significant rainy period for this region is the North-East monsoon which occurs from October to January. More Details about Yala

27.  Kalpitiya lagoon

Mangrove forest in the Kalpitiya lagoon in Sri Lanka, located in the Puttalam district of Sri Lanka, is a fast-growing tourist destination located around 165 kilometres north of Colombo. The land and its associated beaches are known for their stunning sunsets and comparative solitude. Also most suitable for bird enthusiasts. More Details about Kalpitiya lagoon

28. Wilpattu National Park

The main topographical highlight in this Park is the concentration of “villus” or “lakes” within it. Though confined to a particular park sector, the striking feature is extremely varied copper red, loamy soils. The Park’s western sector, with deeply forested areas and thorny bushes, is reminiscent of Yala National Park in southern Sri Lanka. The biodiversity in the area consists of endemic, migratory and resident bird species as well as exotic fauna and flora, making it a perfect location for bird lovers. Inter-monsoon rains characterize it in March and April, extensive drought from May until early September and a significant rainy season (Northern Monsoon) from September until December. Based on long-term records, the mean annual temperature is 27.2 ° C, and the total yearly rain is approximately 1000mm based on long term records. More Details about Wilpattu

29. Minneriya National Park

The Minneriya National Park is found in the District of Polonnaruwa in the North Central Province. Minneriya tank, with its surroundings, plays a vital role as a wetland. Therefore it has high biodiversity in the area consisting of endemic, migratory and resident bird species as well as exotic fauna and flora, making it an ideal spot for bird enthusiasts.
The main entrance to the Park is Ambagaswewa, 8.8km from Habarana on the Colombo – Polonnaruwa route. One could enter the Park by receiving a permit from the Ambagaswewa wildlife conservation office.
Minneriya is an old irrigation tank with 22,550ha when complete and a catchment area of 24,000ha. The primary source of the river is from a deviation of the Amban Ganga forward the Elahera channel. The Park covers an area of 8,889ha. The altitude ranges from around 100m to 8,885m at the summit of the Nilgala peak. The situation is tropical monsoon climate; anticipated annual rainfall is about 1,146mm and means yearly temperature of 27.5 ° C. More Details about Minneriya National Park

30. Kokkilai Sanctuary

Kokkilai Sanctuary, situated in northeastern Sri Lanka, is a designated haven for birds and wildlife. Encompassing an expansive area of 1,995 hectares (4,930 acres), the sanctuary is characterized by its diverse landscape, which includes mangrove swamps, sea grass beds, cultivated land, scrub, and open forests.
The sanctuary was officially recognized and afforded protection under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, earning its designation as a bird sanctuary on May 18, 1951. This legal status reflects the importance of preserving the rich biodiversity within its boundaries.
The varied ecosystems within Kokkilai Sanctuary contribute to its significance as a habitat for many bird species. Mangrove swamps and seagrass beds attract waterfowl and coastal birds, while the open forests and scrub provide suitable environments for diverse wildlife. This combination of habitats makes Kokkilai a crucial area for resident and migratory birds, enhancing its appeal for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. More Details about Kokkilai Sanctuary

Ravindu Dilshan Illangakoon is a distinguished co-founder and Head of Content at Sri Lanka Travel Pages, specializing in web development and article writing.
Article by
Ravindu Dilshan Illangakoon
As co-founder and Head of Content at Sri Lanka Travel Pages, I ensure that every blog post we publish is AMAZING.

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