Despite being a small island, Sri Lanka is blessed with an extremely diverse array of bird species. There are many bird sanctuaries scattered across the island numbering around ten to twelve without the birds that can be found in national parks, lagoons and on your drive from city to city, bird watching in Sri Lanka is a must-do excursion on your bucket list.
Hunnasgiriya, the mountain range that encircles Hunas Falls is also home to a wide range of birds and can be considered an ornithologist’s dream. Shaheen peak, in this vicinity is named after the Shaheen falcon which is prevalent in the hills.
The mountain path makes for a great hike as it is cold and damp with beautiful views at the top and excellent vantage point from which you can spot the birds. Here is a list of five birds that you will meet on the trail.
1. Shaheen Falcon
The shaheen falcon is a local resident species of falcon. They frequent rocky outcrops and mountain cliffsides where they can build nests and launch attacks on fast-flying birds that they prey on. The shaheen are solitary and mate for life but because of the difference in size between the male and the female, they each hunt a different set of prey. They can dive at speeds up to 200 mph.
2. White Bellied Sea Eagle
The white bellied sea eagle is a territorial bird. They reside throughout South and Southeast Asia all the way to Australia and despite being strong in numbers, have begun to dwindle in parts of Thailand and southeast Australia mostly due to human disturbance of their habitat.
The white bellied sea eagle is a very distinct bird and easily recognised thanks to its white head, breast and tail. The indigenous people of Australia venerate the bird as holy. The eagles often form pairs while some can be nomadic. They are opportunistic and will even feed on carrion, given the choice.
3. Sri Lankan Wood Pigeon
The Sri Lanka wood pigeon is endemic to Sri Lanka and resides mostly in the mountains. They are white-bellied dark grey tail and upperparts, with a lilac head and underpart.
4. Hanging Parrot
The hanging parrot is a genus of small parrot that can be found in the tropics of South Asia. They are called hanging parrots for their ability to sleep while hanging upside down. The Sri Lankan hanging parrot is endemic to the island and 13 cm long. Its irises and beak are white, it’s a crown and rump red, the nape and back are orange and the throat and chin are a pale blue.
5. Layard’s Parakeet
Layard’s parakeet is a parrot type endemic to Sri Lanka. It is around 29 cm long with a 13 cm tail. An adult has a grey-blue head, a green collar, a black stripe on the chin and a blue tail tipped with yellow. The birds move depending on the availability of fruit, buds and seeds, feeding in flocks, nesting in large trees where they lay about three to four eggs.