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Watha Rathu Malkoha - Red-Faced Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus)


This is a large species at 46 cm with a long graduated tail. Its back is dark green, and the uppertail is green edged with white. The belly and undertail are white, the latter being barred black. The crown and throat are black, and the lower face white. There is a large red patch around the eye and the bill is green. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are much duller. The Red-faced Malkoha takes a variety of insects including caterpillars, giant stick insects, mantises and small vertebrates such as lizard. It occasionally may eat berries but this needs confirmation.


It inhabits tall forest, and lives either solitary, in pairs, or in small flocks. It is shy and restless, a dweller in the tree canopy, where, like the last species, it cleverly threads its way through tangled twigs, creepers and foliage.
The breeding season is in the first half of the year and probably again in August-September. The nest is described as a shallow saucer of grass, roots and twigs, very carelessly put together, and placed in high bushes in forest with thick undergrowth. The two or three eggs are white, with a chalky surface, and they measure about 35.8 X 27 mm.


The Red-Faced Malkoha is regularly seen at Sinharaja and few other remaining rain forests, frequents associating with feeding waves. It is also found in scattered riverine habitats in the dry zone, such as Lahugala, Wasgamuwa, Manik Ganga and Kubukkan Oya.


Bird Watching in Sri Lanka Part .02

The Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Gallus lafayetii, is a member of the pheasant family which is endemic to Sri Lanka. It is a close relative of the Indian Red Junglefowl, Gallus gallus, the wild junglefowl from which the chicken was domesticated. This bird is known as Wali Kukula locally by the Sinhala speaking community. Known locally as Wali Kukula it is the designated national bird of Sri Lanka.
These are large birds, with colourful male plumage, but are sometimes difficult to see in the denser woodlands. It is common in forest and scrub habitats, and is commonly spotted at sites such as Kitulgala, Yala and Sinharaja. This is one of four species of bird in the genus Gallus. It is a ground nesting bird, which lays 2-4 eggs in a nest. As with many birds in the pheasant family, the colourful male plays no part in the incubation of the eggs or rearing of the precocial young. These duties are performed by the drab and well-camouflaged female. The male Sri Lanka Junglefowl ranges from 66-73 cm long. It is chicken-like in structure, and has orange-red body plumage, and dark purple wings and tail. The back of the head and the neck are golden, and the face has bare red skin and wattles. The comb is red with a yellow centre. Unlike other junglefowl, the cock does not have an eclipse plumage. The female is much smaller, at only 35 cm. She is mainly brown with white patterning on the lower belly and breast.
Like most of the pheasant family, Sri Lanka Junglefowl is a terrestrial species. It scratches vigorously for various seeds, fallen fruit and insects. The main breeding season is in the first quarter of the year, but often a second clutch is laid in August-September, and breeding may go on throughout the year. The nest is often a shallow scrape in the ground, concealded by herbage, at the foot of a tree or beside a dead log. The eggs number two to four; they are creamy-white, some very finely peppered, other more boldly but sparingly speckled with brown.
They measure about 48 ~ 35 mm.
Forests & scrub jungles & in upcountry tea estates. Breeding Grounds- All Zones. Common.

The Sri Lanka Spurfowl,
Galloperdix bicalcarata, is a member of the pheasant family which is endemic to the dense rainforests of Sri Lanka.
It is a very secretive bird, and despite its size is difficult to see as it slips through dense undergrowth. Often the only indication of its presence is its distinctive ringing call, consisting of series of three-syllabled whistles. Kitulgala and Sinharaja are sites where there is a chance of seeing this bird.
Sri Lanka Spurfowl is a plump, 37 cm long bird. Both sexes have brown upperparts, wings and tail. There is a red facial skin patch, and a whitish throat. The legs are red.
The adult male has scaly black and white underparts and head. There is also extensive white spotting on the brown wings and upperback. The legs have two long spurs, which give rise to the specific name. The female has chestnut underparts and a plain brown back and wings.

Strictly a forest bird, it is so shy and wary that its presence in a district would often pass quite unknown were it not for its unmistakable cry; this reveals that it is not uncommon in much of the more densely forested parts of its range. The cry is peculiar, ringing cackle, consisting of series of three-syllabled whistles.
Distinctly a ground bird. The food consists of various seeds, fallen berries, termites and other insects, and it scratches vigorously for them amongst the dead leaves, etc., of the forest floor. The breeding season is in the north-east monsoon, and sometimes a second brood is raised in July-September.
The nest is a slight scrape in the ground in the shelter of a rock, bush, etc. The eggs from the normal clutch, but up to five have been recorded; they are cream or warm buff in color, and exactly resemble miniature hens’ eggs in appearance. They measure about 43 ~ 31 mm.
Humid forests. Breeding Ground is in the Wet Zone, eastern & southern sectors of Dry Zone and seldom in the Hill Country. Rare.


Bird Watching in Sri Lanka Part 01

Sri Lanka is one of the best places in the world watch birds. Sri Lanka is truly a paradise for birds, especially around the bird sanctuaries and wetland reserves in the south east of the island.

The amazing abundance of over 400 varieties of birds in Sri Lanka is attributable to the tropical Climate and wide range of natural habitats, from mountains to lowlands to dry plains and lush forests. On a point of academic argument, there are either 26 or 23 endemic species in Sri Lanka, largely confined to the rainforests of the hill zone.

Bird watching in Sri Lanka will entice many bird enthusiasts. With over 56 species of birds endogenous to Sri Lanka, found on the rivers, hill country, rainforest and by the coast, it is a twitches’ paradise.

Sri Lanka specialist’s Lakpura travels have reviewed over 100 traditional hotels and can provide expert advice on where to stay for stylish holidays or authentic bungalows located in the best bird watching locations across Sri Lanka. You can book online for bird watching holidays. Colorful and tropical birds visit the island at different times of year following the air currents. Ceylon flycatcher, Green beater, eagles, herons and woodpeckers are a few of the delights. So grab your birding supplies (i.e binoculars, cameras, clothes, contact lens supplies, etc) and come to Sri Lanka for the ultimate birding experience

Sri Lankan Endemic Bird List

Lanka Habam Kukula - Sri Lanka Spurfowl
Lanka Wali Kukula - Sri Lanka Junglefowl
Lanka Mailagoya - Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon
Lanka Giramalitha -Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot
Lanka Alu Girawa - Layard's Parakeet
Watha Rathu Malkoha - Red Faced Malkoha
Lanka Bata Eti Kukula - Sri Lanka Green Billed Coucal
Lanka Pitathbala Vana Bssa - Chestnut Backed Owlet
Alu Kadaththa - Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
Rannalal Kottoruwa - Sri Lanka Yellow Fronted Barbet
Hisa Kalu Kondaya - Black-Crested Bulbul
Lanka Arangaya - Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush
Pulli Wal Awichchiya - Sri Lanka Spot-Winged Thrush
Kandu Hambu Kurulla - Sri Lanka Bush Warbler
Lanka Adhuru Nil-Massimara - Sri Lanka Dull Blue Flycatcher
Lanka Mudun Bora Demalichcha - Brown Capped Barbbler
Ratu Demalichcha - Sri Lanka Orange-Billed Babbler
Alu Demalichcha - Ashy-Headed Laughing Thrush
Lanka Pilachcha - White-Throated Flowerpecker
Lanka Sithasiya - Sri Lanka White-Eye
Lanka Kahibella - Sri Lanka Blue Magpie
Hisa-Sudu Sharikava - Sri Lanka White Faced Starling
Lanka Salalihiniya - Sri Lanka Mynah
Wana Kowlaspatiya - Ceylon Wood Shrike
Dhekathi Demalichcha - Lanka Scimitar Babbler
Pethi Gomara Wal Awichchiya - Ceylon Scaly Thrush
Paduwan Bassa -Serendib Scops Owl
Pita Rathu Batagoya - Sri Lankan Green Piegon
Konda Kawda - Sri Lanka Drongo
Maha Rathu Karala - Crimson Backed Flamback
Bada Rathu Wahilihiniya - Sri Lanka Swallow
Heen Kottoruwa - Ceylon Small Barbet
Kaha Kondaya - The Yellow - Eared Bulbul