The Sinharaja Forest Reserve, famous as Sri Lanka’s largest remaining tropical rain forest and one of the island’s best trekking areas, is rich in biodiversity, particularly in birdlife with about 150 species recorded. 72% were resident non-endemic and 13% migrants in the western sector of the reserve.
There are three reasons why the Sinharaja rain forest is a must-see for birdlovers travelling to Sri Lanka.
Sinharaja is definitely the best place for studying the typical wetland bird species.
Of Sinharaja’s 42% bird species classified as common, two thirds are confined to heavily forested undisturbed areas. 56% of Sinharaja`s species are either rare or have low population densities. Interestingly, few endemic and other species thought to be confined to the highlands have also been sighted in the Sinharaja hills (because altitudes are ranging from 300 up to 1,500 metres), for example Sri Lanka White-eye, Scaly Thrush, Wood Pigeon, Dusky Blue Flycatcher and Yellow-eared Bulbul.
Sinharaja is the area with the highest number of Sri Lanka’s endemic bird species.
Remarkably, the many endemic species do not only occur in Sinharaja but can be seen easily or in high numbers. Endemic bird species very common in Sinharaja are Sri Lanka Rufous Babbler, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Sri Lanka White-eye, White-headed Starling. Other regularly observed endemic species Ashy-headed Babbler and Legge's Flowerpecker. The striking Sri Lanka Blue Magpie (Urocissa ornata) is the emblematic bird of the Sinharaja. It’s Sinhala name “Kehibella” means "beautiful lady of the forest". Very rare endemic birds are the Spotted-winged Thrush and the Sri Lanka Brown-capped Babbler.
Sinharaja is the world’s best location to see mixed species bird flocks.
Mixed species bird flocks are one of the most exciting experiences of the Sinharaja rain forest. According to regular studies carried out on the Sinharaja mixed species bird flocks, 40 individual birds and 12 species are found in the flocks on average and 56 bird species participate in mixed flocks. The aggregation of birds of different species is thought to be a strategy for improving feeding efficiency and protection against predators. Different groups of mixed species flocks occupy four different levels of the forest, namely under storey undergrowth, sub canopy, canopy and and emergent or very high canopy. The beautiful Sri Lanka Blue Magpie joins mixed flocks living in the sub canopy (mid canopy in medium-height of the trees), whereas the Red-faced-Malkoha, another popular endemic bird, belongs to those mixed flocks preferring the canopy.
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