Best Bird Watching Locations in Sri Lanka 2020



A large island off the southern coast of India, Sri Lanka offers many different locations to see exotic birds in their natural habitat. Considered by many to be a birder’s paradise, this tropical island is home to an astounding 452 species of birds in which 236 of those are breeding residents. An additional 200 species of migratory birds visit Sri Lanka as they move away from the Scandinavia, Siberia and Western Europe. They arrive around August/September and leave around late April. Whenever you are visiting this vibrant Island that is full of wildlife and diverse habitats there will be plenty to see. Here are our best bird watching locations in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Facts

Bird Speices
National Parks
Area (SQ/miles)


1. Anawilundawa Bird Sanctuary


You can find this bird sanctuary in the Puttalam District. It is between he Chilaw-Puttlam railway line and the coast. This remarkable location offers three distinctive ecosystems that are the home to many different species of birds. The wetlands are plentiful with birds, but it is the mangroves along with the freshwater tanks that help make this home more suitable to so many different species.


  • Herons
  • Open-Bill Great Cormorant
  • Peasant-Tailed Jacna
  • Purple Swamp Hen
  • Stalk
  • White Ibis


The birds remain in their natural state as they have since before humans inhabited the island. This is one of the most popular places, so be prepared to see crowds of people watching the birds with you.


Tips: You’ll want to make your way to one of the nine freshwater tanks located in the sanctuary. Six of the tanks are manmade and they are cascading as well. By setting up in one location, you can see a wide variety of birds mingle at one of the tanks. As with most good advice about traveling to this part of Sri Lanka, the best time is during the dry season.


– TripAdvisor Profile


2. Knuckles Forest Reserve


Located in the Matale and Kandy districts in the Central Province, this mountainous location is over 3000 feet above sea level. This also makes it one of the most diverse places for birds to live. Declared a National Man & Biosphere Reserve in 2009, what makes this remarkable area a great place for birdwatchers is the diversity of climate. There are also a considerable number of bird species as well which include the following;


  • Babbler
  • Barbet
  • Black Eagle
  • Heron
  • Lorikeet


You can also find a number of Egrets, Woodpeckers, and other species in the forest. There are many locations within the reserve that make the perfect place to watch different species of birds in their natural habitat. Plus, you can choose the elevation as different birds live or migrate from different areas of the park itself.


Tips: Because of the varying terrain, it’s difficult to choose the best time to visit the reserve. However, the months of January, February, and March generally have less wind compared to the rest of the year. Given that the winds can be quite strong at times, you may be better off visiting this location in the late winter and early spring.


– TripAdvisor Profile


3. Sigirya Sanctuary


One of the best locations in all of Sri Lanka to watch birds, the combination of tall hills, mountains, and wetlands offers the heights needed to peer down on the many species of birds that call the Sigiriya Sanctuary home. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this sanctuary offers wetlands, forests, and manmade tanks that provide the water necessary to help feed the birds.


Unlike many other bird sanctuaries, there is no one dominant or rare species of birds to see. Rather, this is a great place to watch migratory birds as they travel from India and back on their annual migration.


Tips: A rock fortress built in the 5th century AD is located atop a mountain which offers a perfect place to see much of this remarkable sanctuary. Plus, it is a historic site unto itself for those who want to learn more about the rich history of Sri Lanka. You can also see abundant wildlife in addition to the many birds that cross the region. However, you may have to go into the forests to see them all.


– TripAdvisor Profile


4. Udawattakele Sanctuary


A forest reserve located near the town of Kandy the name of the sanctuary means “the garden above the royal palace”. This is an apt description of the sanctuary as it offers 104 hectares of forest that is home to a wide variety of species including many different types of birds.


  • Common Hill Myna
  • Forest Eagle Owl
  • Green Leaf & Large Billed Leaf Warblers
  • Indian Three-Toed & Stork-Billed Kingfisher
  • Paradise Flycatcher


These are just a few of the many different species of birds that you will find in the sanctuary. You’ll want to be on the lookout for the birds which call this sanctuary home along with the migratory birds that will reside in the area for a short time.


Tips: In addition to the birds is the tall, wet evergreens that make up this remarkable forest. It also means that the dry season is the best time to visit. You will notice that many of the birds will fish for their dinner in the streams and other bodies of water that dot this location.


– TripAdvisor Profile


5. Wilpattu National Park


Perhaps the most popular of all national parks in Sri Lanka, Wilpattu is not just a sanctuary for birds, but for many different species of wildlife as well. One of the oldest of the national parks on the island, the history of the park is part of its charm. Many people will go on safari in the park and if you plan an extended trip, that may be the perfect way to see the many different birds that call this park home.


  • Eagles
  • Gulls
  • Heron
  • Jungle Fowl
  • Painted Stork
  • Terns


The many different types of birds provides for many great opportunities for avid birdwatchers. This is because of the network of waterways that make up the Wilpattu and provide a place for the birds to feed and get water.


Tips: The area itself is accessible, but if you decide to go to the Wilpattu, be prepared to see more than just the birds. This is the home to elephants, sloth bears. Leopards, and deer such as the spotted and barking type.


– TripAdvisor Profile


A trip to Sri Lanka offers a remarkable experience for those who love bird watching. Be sure that you visit the island nation at the right time of the year to fully enjoy your trip.


More Articles.

About Us

We are avid bird-watchers who recently retired, allowing us more time to travel the world. Fortunately, we have managed to visit numerous countries around Europe, Asia, and America. Watching and photographing birds has been a passion for many years and we are making the most of the extra time on our hands!


Leave a Comment