Sunday, September 7, 2014

Annotated checklist of vagrant raptors (Family: Accipitridae and Falconidae) recorded in Sri Lanka

    Birds that appear outside their normal range are known as vagrants. This post summarizes up to date published sight records of vagrants of the Falconidae (Falcons) and Accipitridae (Osprey, Kites, Hawks & Eagles) families in Sri Lanka.

      1)Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)
Lesser Kestrel was recorded first time in Sri Lanka by Deepal Warakagoda on 7th February 1995 at Palatupana of Yala National Park (Hoffmann, T. W., 1996). Sight records from Udawalawe on November 2003 and Horton plains National Park on December same year are the 2nd and 3rd records of it, for the island (Warakagoda, D., 2004)

      2) Amur Falcon [Red-legged falcon] (Falco amurensis)
First record of this falcon in Sri Lanka is the specimen procured by Legge at Trincomalie in December 1872 (Legge 1880: 160). Another bird in company with kestrels was observed and identified by G.M. Henry from Colombo racecourse in March 1933 (Whistler 1944: 241). Single female was observed in a coconut grove at Thenadi bay, east coast on May 1978 (Hoffmann, T. W., 1979). On 12th November 1984 single bird observed at Mahasilawa of Yala National Park (Hoffmann, T. W., 1985). Probably the same bird again reported in February 1985 (Hoffmann, T. W., 1986). CBC notes contains single sighting of this Falcon for 1998 and it was reported in the month of December at Udawalawe National Park (Warakagoda, D., 1999). Three sightings were reported during year 1999 including one female from Udawalawe National Park on November (Warakagoda, D., 2000). During 2003 November two sightings were reported, one from Yala National Park and other one near Talladi (Warakagoda, D., 2004). There are a sight records  from Yala National Park in 2005 (Sirivardana U. Warakagoda  D. , 2006and in January 2006 (Siriwardana, U. 2007). Sight record at Colombo is given in the Report of CBC for 2008-2011 (Warakagoda D. & Sirivardana U., 2011.)

     3)Egyptian Vulture(Neophron percnopterus ginginianus)
An immature Egyptian Vulture probably driven to the south by the North-East monsoon from India appeared at Nuwaraeliya in March 1874.  It was shot by Grinlinton of the P.W.D while roaming about bazaar in search of foods (Legge 1880:3). There is another sight record made by Iris Darnton in January 1950 of a single bird from the Jaffna peninsula (Phillips 1978:18).

     4)Grey-faced Buzzard (Butastur indicus)
A single specimen collected in 1934 from Polgahawela by W.S. Lang and now deposited at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology; University of California is the only record of this species from Sri Lanka. However it is suspected as a specimen of a captive bird (Kotagama S. & Ratnavira G. 2010: 194 Quoting Rasmussen & Anderton 2005: 101)

      5)Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus rufinus)
Long-legged Buzzard was first time reported in Sri Lanka at Horton plains on 26th January 1989 by Ben King, James Clements and Robert Clements (Hoffmann, T. W., 1989). It was again reported from Horton plains in 1994 (Hoffmann, T. W., 1995), November 1997 (Hoffmann, T. W., 1999), February 2002 (Siriwardana, U., 2003) February 2003 (Warakagoda, D., 2004)  and 2005 (Sirivardana U. Warakagoda  D. , 2006). A sight record also available for the year 1995 (Hoffmann, T. W., 1996). 

      6) Bonelli's Eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus fasciatus)
Single specimen collected by R. Templeton prior to 1858 and identified by Blyth is the earliest record of the occurrence of Bonelli’s eagle in Sri Lanka (Whistler 1944: 242). Second record of it is the sight record of Deepal Warakagoda at Bundala National Park on December 2000 (Senanayake, N., 2001) while third being at Ratugala in March 2002 (Siriwardana, U., 2003). However there is a reference for another earlier unconfirmed single sight record at Randeniyagala on August 1995 (Hoffmann, T. W., 1996).

Unconfirmed vagrants:

Species for which there are only one or two sight records exist categorized here as unconfirmed vagrants. Problematic records without sufficient details are also included.

      7)Back-thighed Falconet [Black-legged Falconet] (Microhierax fringillarius)
W.E. Wait included this falconet to his monograph base on a comment made by E.E. Green of presence of it in Sri Lanka (Wait 1931: 283). E.E. Green’s description of two incidents appeared in Spolia zeylanica vol 8 page 287 is quoted here. “For those who are interested in bird life, I would draw attention to the probable occurrence of an unsuspected bird in the hilly parts of Ceylon. I refer to one of the smallest of the hawk tribe, a falconet, three species of which are found in India. The first suggestion of the presence of such a bird came to me through a planter in Hewaheta, who described to me how he had seen two black birds fighting, and how one of them had killed the other and had flown away with it. I had, later, the good fortune to witness a similar occurrence myself. In this case the victim was a common “bulbul." I was attracted by its cries of distress, and came upon the scene just in time to see it disappearing over the trees in the clutches of a tiny dark-colored hawk that looked no bigger than itself. Naturally, I had no gun with me, and so was unable to verify my observation. If our falconet is identical with one of the Indian species, it will probably prove to be Microhierax fringillarius, the smallest of the three, which ranges through the southern portion of TenasserimMalay Peninsula, SumatraBorneo, and Java. This species is said to feed more exclusively upon birds.” (Green E.E.,  )

      8) Red-necked Falcon (Falco chicquera chicquera)
Legge included this Falcon to his monograph base on the Layard’s observation of it in the flat country near Pt. Pedro (Legge 1880: 150). Legge further noted that since it is found in the extreme south of the Indian peninsula there is no reason against believing of visiting this little falcon of northern shores of CeylonWait also considered this bird as a possible falcon in our lands referring to Layard’s observation mentioned in Legge’s and also due to its occurrence of practically all over India (Wait 1931: 282). There is a reference in Kotagama & Ratnavira (2010) of a sight record in 1986 quoting CBCN 1986, June: 22 but annual reviews of CBC notes for 1986 doesn't contain such a sight record (Hoffmann, T. W., 1987)

      9) Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus nisosimilis)
Deepal Warakagoda’s sight record of Eurasian Sparrowhawk at Ambawela in 2003 is considered as the first and only record of occurrence of this raptor in Sri Lanka (Warakagoda, D., 2004). However under ‘List of rejections (after 1990) ‘of Ceylon bird club there is a reference of another possible previous sighting of a single bird near Sigiriya on 24th December 1993, which was  rejected by CBCCRRC as claimed record was not meeting the criteria for the Sri Lanka List or the Appendices by the CBCRRC. (


Green E.E. Some suggestions for members of the Ceylon Natural History Society. Spolia zeylanica Vol 8 p. 287.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1979. Note from the Ceylon Bird club 1978. Loris, 15(1), p 6-8.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1985. Notes from the Ceylon Bird Club 1984. Loris, 17(1), p 10-12.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1986. Notes from the Ceylon Bird Club 1985. Loris, 17(3), 99-101.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1987. Notes from the Ceylon Bird Club 1986. Loris, 17(5), 209-210
Hoffmann, T. W., 1989. The Ceylon Bird Club. Loris, 18(3), 129-131.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1995. Ceylon Bird Club Notes 1994. Loris, 20(5), 226-227.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1996. Ceylon Bird Club Notes 1995. Loris, 21(1), 16-18.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1999. Ceylon Bird Club Notes, 1997. Loris, 22(1), 57-58.
Kotagama, S., Ratnavira, G. 2010. An illustrated Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka. Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka, Colombo.
Legge V., 1880. A History of the birds of Ceylon  1983 second edition.
Phillips W.W.A., 1978. Annotated checklist of the Birds of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) 1978 revised edition.
Senanayake, N., 2001. Report from the Ceylon Bird Club for 2000. Loris, 22(5), 43-44
Siriwardana, U., 2003. Report from the Ceylon Bird Club for 2002. Loris, 23(3&4), 36-39.
Siriwardana, U., 2007 Report of the Ceylon Bird Club 2006 Loris, 24(5 & 6), 50-56
Sirivardana U. Warakagoda  D. , 2006. Report from the Ceylon Bird Club for 2005 Loris 24(3&4), 24 - 28
Wait W.E., 1931. Manual of the Birds of Ceylon. 2nd edition. Colombo Museum.
Warakagoda, D., 1999. Ceylon Bird Club Notes,1998. Loris, 22(2), 33-34.
Warakagoda, D., 2000. Report from the Ceylon Bird Club for 1999. Loris, 22(4), 23-25.
Warakagoda, D., 2004. Report from the Ceylon Bird Club for 2003 Loris, 23 (5&6), 37-41
Warakagoda D. & Sirivardana U., 2011. Report from the Ceylon Bird Club for 2008-2011, Loris 26 (1&2)
Whistler, H. 1944 The avifaunal survey of Ceylon conducted jointly by the British and Colombo museums. Spolia Zeylanica 23(3&4): 119-321

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