bird with a beak from ear to ear
It was believed that the Ceylon Frogmouth or 'Gembi-kata Bassa'
is a rare breeding resident in Sri Lanka found nowhere else in the
world. However, recent surveys conducted in the Indira Gandhi Wildlife
Sanctuary in the Aanaimalai Hills in South India have recorded that
the same bird as ours is found there.
While at least
five species of Frogmouths are found in South-East Asia, the Ceylon
Frogmouth (Batrachostomus moni-liger) is the sole representative
of the family Podargidae in the island.
characterized by their wide, short, stout beak, with gape extending
to almost behind the eye, hence its name. Owing to its bizarre appearance
and apparent rarity, very few people have seen it in the wild, since
it was first described by Edward Blyth in 1846.
W.E. Wait (1931)
describes the Ceylon Frogmouth as "A sluggish, strictly nocturnal
bird frequenting thick bamboo jungle or dense forest growths. During
the day it lies fast asleep across a branch with its bill turned
G.M. Henry (1955)
has this to say; "It sleeps on a branch with beak pointing
upwards. In this position its lichen-like plumage suggests a dead
snag on the branch. It sleeps soundly and may sometimes almost be
seized in the hand before it awakes." Its call is variously
described as "a rapid coorroo, coorroo (Legge); "a loud
whistled scream Wheeeeoooo (male) and Wheee-ooo-what (female) (Ben
King) or "resembling the screech of a fishing reel running
out slowly," (Henry).
the Annotated Checklist (1978 revised edition), the Ceylon Frogmouth
has a wide distribution, in small numbers, throughout the forests
and well-wooded areas of the lowlands and the central hills to altitudes
of 6,000 feet, but is seldom seen. Most specimens of the bird have
been recorded either from Sinharaja or Bibile, with occasional sightings
from a number of places such as Kitulgala, Labugama, Handapanagala,
Uda-Walawe, Nilgala and Moneragala.