Yala is the most prominent bird watching site in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. It is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and so far records 215 bird species. Six of them are endemic to Sri Lanka.

Endemic bird sighting opportunities at Yala national park  

  • Sri Lanka grey hornbill,
  • Sri Lanka jungle fowl,
  • Sri Lanka wood pigeon,
  • Crimson-fronted barbet,
  • Black-capped bulbul,
  • Brown-capped babbler

In addition, 90 water birds inhabit Yala national park. Around 50% of them are migrants. Waterfowl (lesser whistling duck, garganey), cormorants (little cormorant, Indian cormorant), large waterbirds (grey heron, black-headed ibis, Eurasian spoonbill, Asian openbill, painted stork), medium-sized waders, and small waders are common waterbirds. Black-necked stork and lesser adjutant are the rare birds at Yala national park. Migrant great white pelican and resident spot-billed pelican are also have been recorded. Other waterbirds at Yala lagoons include lesser flamingo,pelicans, purple heron, night herons, egrets, purple swamphen, and Oriental darter. Waterfowls migrate to the Yala lagoons during the northeast monsoon. Some of such species are northern pintail, white-winged tern, Eurasian curlew, whimbrel, godwits, and ruddy turnstone. The visiting species mingled with residing lesser whistling duck, yellow-wattled lapwing, red-wattled lapwing, and great stone-curlew. Rock pigeon, barred buttonquail, Indian peafowl, black stork, black-winged stilt, and greater flamingo are among the other bird species. Crested serpent eagle and white-bellied sea eagle are the raptors of the park. The forest birds are orange-breasted green pigeon, hornbills, Old World flycatchers, Asian paradise-flycatcher, Asian barbets, and orioles.

The saltpans surrounding the Yala national park especially around Palatupana entrance are great sites to spot sea birds.

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