Click on to hear and see those birds

By Lankika de Livera

For the first time in this country, we have an electronic guide book to the birds of Sri Lanka. It comes in the form of a CD-Rom with images of the birds along with their calls. An invaluable compendium for ornithologists, it is also a wonderful way of familiarizing oneself with different bird calls.

Black Capped Kingfisher Indian Roller

The CD, is the product of 18 years of work by ornithologists Deepal Warakagoda and Uditha Hettige.

They have captured some 135 species of birds, both migrant and resident. The introduction is quite fascinating. I learnt that bird calls fall into two broad categories - “calls” and “songs”.

“Calls” are made for purposes of contact, copulation or to indicate food availability, hunger (of nestlings) or approaching danger. “Songs” – sometimes solo performances or duets could be for courtship while aggressive songs are used to threaten an intruder, mainly of the same species. Deepal put out his first CD of bird calls a few years ago.

He became well known after he discovered a new owl species in the Sinharaja forest, the Serendib Scops Owl. It was given the scientific name of Otus thiloHoffmanni - after Deepal’s mentor, well-known conservationist Thilo Hoffman.

The songs and calls are of high quality. With every image I clicked onto, I felt I was right there in the jungle or the swamp, listening to the bird sounds. It is a wonderful way to de-stress.Recording the bird sounds and capturing the images would have been both challenging and tedious.

Deepal’s and Uditha’s team waded through rivers, streams and swamps; trekked through leech-infested, snake-ridden jungles, in mist; harsh sun or rain, sometimes waiting for hours in one spot for that right moment to capture the right sound and image.

The images in the CD are by Uditha Hettige, Kithsiri Gunawardena, Palitha Antony, Tharanga Herath and Chinthaka de Silva. To me some of the best shots were Kithsiri Gunawardena’s Purple Heron, Black Capped Kingfisher and the Stork billed Kingfisher.

Uditha Hettige’s Red faced Malkoha, Ceylon Small Barbet, Rufous Woodpecker and Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher merit mention as does an artistic shot of a trio of Green Imperial Pigeons on long, trailing clusters of red and green berries that looks almost like a painting. Tharanga Herath has captured a beautiful shot of the rare Malabar Trogan.

The CD-Rom priced at Rs 1,500 is available at Odel, Rohan’s bookshop Liberty Plaza and Mark bookshop in Kandy.

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Click on to hear and see those birds


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