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Owl varieties in Sri Lanka

Amidst the dense vegetation of the Sinharaja Rain Forest, the mangrove swamps of Kumana, and even within the abundance of greenery at Wilpattu, one may stumble upon multiple varieties of owls during bird watching tours in Sri Lanka. Presently housing 12 different species of owls, with two being endemic to the island, it is important to note that these predators are primarily active at night, yet they can often be found nesting in daylight.

With enhanced hearing, and an acute sense of sight, owls are able to ensnare their prey with ease, and this is only made easier by their sharp talons, which effortlessly pierce through animal hides. It is interesting to note that while most owls feed on rodents and small mammals, the Fish Owl, as its name suggests, opts for a diet of live fish.

Moreover, the calls of these owls are noticeably different from one another, and have collectively led to the creation of many myths, which bear significant roles in Sri Lankan folklore. For instance, the Spot-bellied eagle owl is alternatively known as the ‘Devil Bird’, for it is in possession of an unusual call, which is said to resemble a human voice. To the locals of the country, the cry of the Devil Bird is an omen that foretells death. Many believe that the spirit of a mother resides in the bird, as its cries of anguish which resound throughout the entirety of the forest are likened to the wailing of a mother, who is mourning for the loss of her child.

Though owl sightings vary by region, and by the climate of each national park, if one is fortunate to travel alongside an experienced safari guide, they are increasingly likely to stumble upon Barn OwlsScops Owls, and even Chestnut-backed owlets.

If you are further interested, join us on a bird watching tour in Sri Lanka and our guides will take you to places which are ideal for bird enthusiasts. 

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