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2012-03-11

Bird Watching in Sri Lanka Part .02

The Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Gallus lafayetii, is a member of the pheasant family which is endemic to Sri Lanka. It is a close relative of the Indian Red Junglefowl, Gallus gallus, the wild junglefowl from which the chicken was domesticated. This bird is known as Wali Kukula locally by the Sinhala speaking community. Known locally as Wali Kukula it is the designated national bird of Sri Lanka.
Identification
These are large birds, with colourful male plumage, but are sometimes difficult to see in the denser woodlands. It is common in forest and scrub habitats, and is commonly spotted at sites such as Kitulgala, Yala and Sinharaja. This is one of four species of bird in the genus Gallus. It is a ground nesting bird, which lays 2-4 eggs in a nest. As with many birds in the pheasant family, the colourful male plays no part in the incubation of the eggs or rearing of the precocial young. These duties are performed by the drab and well-camouflaged female. The male Sri Lanka Junglefowl ranges from 66-73 cm long. It is chicken-like in structure, and has orange-red body plumage, and dark purple wings and tail. The back of the head and the neck are golden, and the face has bare red skin and wattles. The comb is red with a yellow centre. Unlike other junglefowl, the cock does not have an eclipse plumage. The female is much smaller, at only 35 cm. She is mainly brown with white patterning on the lower belly and breast.
Behaviour
Like most of the pheasant family, Sri Lanka Junglefowl is a terrestrial species. It scratches vigorously for various seeds, fallen fruit and insects. The main breeding season is in the first quarter of the year, but often a second clutch is laid in August-September, and breeding may go on throughout the year. The nest is often a shallow scrape in the ground, concealded by herbage, at the foot of a tree or beside a dead log. The eggs number two to four; they are creamy-white, some very finely peppered, other more boldly but sparingly speckled with brown.
They measure about 48 ~ 35 mm.
Locations
Forests & scrub jungles & in upcountry tea estates. Breeding Grounds- All Zones. Common.

















The Sri Lanka Spurfowl,
Galloperdix bicalcarata, is a member of the pheasant family which is endemic to the dense rainforests of Sri Lanka.
It is a very secretive bird, and despite its size is difficult to see as it slips through dense undergrowth. Often the only indication of its presence is its distinctive ringing call, consisting of series of three-syllabled whistles. Kitulgala and Sinharaja are sites where there is a chance of seeing this bird.
Identification
Sri Lanka Spurfowl is a plump, 37 cm long bird. Both sexes have brown upperparts, wings and tail. There is a red facial skin patch, and a whitish throat. The legs are red.
The adult male has scaly black and white underparts and head. There is also extensive white spotting on the brown wings and upperback. The legs have two long spurs, which give rise to the specific name. The female has chestnut underparts and a plain brown back and wings.

Behaviour
Strictly a forest bird, it is so shy and wary that its presence in a district would often pass quite unknown were it not for its unmistakable cry; this reveals that it is not uncommon in much of the more densely forested parts of its range. The cry is peculiar, ringing cackle, consisting of series of three-syllabled whistles.
Distinctly a ground bird. The food consists of various seeds, fallen berries, termites and other insects, and it scratches vigorously for them amongst the dead leaves, etc., of the forest floor. The breeding season is in the north-east monsoon, and sometimes a second brood is raised in July-September.
The nest is a slight scrape in the ground in the shelter of a rock, bush, etc. The eggs from the normal clutch, but up to five have been recorded; they are cream or warm buff in color, and exactly resemble miniature hens’ eggs in appearance. They measure about 43 ~ 31 mm.
Locations
Humid forests. Breeding Ground is in the Wet Zone, eastern & southern sectors of Dry Zone and seldom in the Hill Country. Rare.

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