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Meet The National Bird of Sri Lanka, The Sri Lankan Junglefowl

From the gem-laden seas to the lush, verdant highlands, Sri Lanka, known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” stands as a haven for biodiversity. Deep within this ecological treasure trove, a particular bird flits and struts, a symbol of the nation’s pride – the Sri Lankan Junglefowl.

As you journey with us through the pristine forests and shimmering shores of Sri Lanka, prepare to be enamored by this stunning fowl. But did you know that this bird holds clues to the ancestry of every domestic chicken in the world? Stick around, and you’ll discover just how.

Quick Info About The Sri Lankan Junglefowl

Scientific Name:Gallus lafayettii or Gallus lafayetii
Average Size:Male: 66–72 cm (26–28 in) Female: 35 cm (14 in)
Average Weight:Male: 790–1,140 g (1.74–2.51 lb) Female: 510–645 g (1.124–1.422 lb)
Average Lifespan:30 years in the wild
Geographical Range:Endemic to Sri Lanka
Habitat:Forests and scrub habitats
Conservation Status:Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

Meet The Sri Lankan Junglefowl, National Bird of Sri Lanka

Radiating with vivacious hues, the Sri Lankan Junglefowl captivates onlookers with its rich orange-red body plumage, dark purple to black wings, and tail in males. But it isn’t just the vibrant colors that attract attention.

The male, resembling a large, muscular rooster, boasts of a golden mane descending from head to base of the spine, further adorned with a face showcasing bare red skin, wattles, and a red comb with a yellow center.

Females, on the other hand, offer a contrast with their much smaller size and subtle brown plumage dotted with white patterns, rendering them almost invisible against the forest floor, a natural camouflage aiding their nesting endeavors.

The sexual dimorphism in this species is not just superficial; it also affects their roles. While females are dedicated nurturers, laying eggs either on the forest floor or in abandoned nests, males play an active role in guarding the nest and raising the chicks.

In the vast diversity of Sri Lanka’s ecosystem, the Junglefowl has carved its niche as a primary terrestrial bird. Preferring the ground, they spend ample time foraging, scratching the earth’s surface to uncover seeds, fallen fruits, and insects. This places them in the middle of the food chain, drawing nourishment from smaller organisms while being potential prey for larger predators.

Their significance transcends ecological boundaries, serving as an emblem of the nation’s heritage, linking the present to the deep evolutionary roots of domestic chickens worldwide.

Sri Lanka JunglefowlSource: Wikimedia Commons

Where Does The Sri Lankan Junglefowl Live?

The Sri Lankan Junglefowl, as an emblem of the island’s rich biodiversity, thrives in varied habitats ranging from sea level up to the cool elevations of 2000 m. It has an affinity for Sri Lanka’s forests and scrub habitats, playing a crucial role in the ecology of these terrains.

From the dense, rain-soaked forests of Sinharaja, the verdant stretches in Kitulgala, to the wilderness of Yala, the Junglefowl is a frequent sight, gracing these areas with its presence.

This bird is endemic to Sri Lanka, which means it is not naturally found anywhere else in the world. Its habitat is a testament to the country’s commitment to conserving unique species by maintaining their natural environments.

Why and When Did The Sri Lankan Junglefowl Become The National Bird of Sri Lanka?

The Sri Lankan Junglefowl’s appointment as the national bird of Sri Lanka is not just a nod to its beauty but a reflection of its profound significance in the country’s ecological and cultural fabric. It symbolizes the distinctiveness and resilience of Sri Lankan wildlife, standing as a beacon of the nation’s commitment to conservation.

Historically, the bird was named in honor of the French aristocrat Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette, connecting it to global ties. Furthermore, being a relative to the domestic chicken, it draws a direct line between wildlife and agricultural practices, showing a seamless blend of nature with daily Sri Lankan life.

As for controversies or debates, there aren’t any significant ones related to the Sri Lankan Junglefowl’s designation as a national symbol. However, like many wildlife species, there’s always a balancing act between conservation efforts and human expansion, especially in the areas where this bird is native.

But its status as a national bird further emphasizes the importance of preserving its habitat and allowing future generations to marvel at its splendor.

Sri Lanka Junglefowl Source: Wikimedia Commons

Where is The Sri Lankan Junglefowl Featured in Sri Lanka?

The pride and significance of the Sri Lankan Junglefowl extend beyond the dense woods and into the daily lives of the citizens. The bird proudly graces Sri Lankan postage stamps, serving as a daily reminder of the country’s rich biodiversity and heritage.

It’s a symbol of national pride, familiar to every resident and to those who communicate with the island nation from abroad. While it doesn’t appear on the country’s flag or currency, its presence on postage stamps showcases its esteemed position in the heart of Sri Lanka’s identity.

Names of The Sri Lankan Junglefowl

The Sri Lankan Junglefowl goes by several names, reflecting both its rich history and its importance to the island nation. Among the common names are:

  • Ceylon Junglefowl: An older name referring to Sri Lanka’s former name, Ceylon.
  • Lafayette’s Junglefowl: Named in honor of the French aristocrat, Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette.
  • Scientific Synonyms: Although Gallus lafayettii is the widely accepted scientific name, there have been variations in its spelling, such as Gallus lafayetii.
  • In the local language of Sinhala, it is often called “වලි කුකුළා” (Wali Kukula), which translates to “forest fowl”.

Is The Sri Lankan Junglefowl Endangered?

The Sri Lankan Junglefowl, as of the latest assessments, is not classified as endangered. Its conservation status is “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List, which means it’s not currently at a significant risk of extinction. However, this does not mean the bird is free from threats.

Rapid deforestation, habitat fragmentation, and human encroachment are ongoing challenges. Thankfully, being a national symbol, there is a heightened sense of duty to protect and conserve this species.

The Sri Lankan government and various environmental organizations actively work towards preserving its habitats, and there are strict regulations against hunting or capturing the bird.

Sri Lanka Junglefowl

Interesting Facts About The Sri Lankan Junglefowl

  1. Sexual Dimorphism: The male is much larger than the female, with vibrant plumage. The males can resemble a large, muscular rooster with striking colors, whereas the females have a more camouflaged appearance suitable for nesting.
  2. Hybridization: Evidence suggests that there has been introgressive hybridization from the Sri Lankan Junglefowl to the domestic chicken. This means that some genes from the Junglefowl have found their way into the domestic chicken gene pool.
  3. Nest Protection: Unlike some bird species where only the female plays an active role in protecting the nest, male Sri Lankan Junglefowls also take an active part in safeguarding their nests and rearing their chicks.
  4. Evolutionary Cousins: While the Sri Lankan Junglefowl is closely related to the red junglefowl, a molecular study shows that it’s genetically closer to the grey junglefowl.
  5. Terrestrial Habits: These birds spend most of their lives on the ground. They forage for food by scratching the ground in search of seeds, fruit, and insects.

Other Beautiful Birds Native To Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, with its diverse habitats ranging from rainforests to grasslands, is home to a variety of endemic and migratory bird species. Here are five other notable birds native to the country:

  • Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis): Found in forests and wooded areas, this hornbill has a distinctive grey plumage and a unique, curved bill.
  • Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot (Loriculus beryllinus): This small, vibrant green parrot can be seen hanging upside-down from branches, giving it its name.
  • White-faced Starling (Sturnia albofrontata): Native to the central highlands, this starling has a distinct white face contrasting its darker body.
  • Red-faced Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus): A type of cuckoo, it has a striking red face and prefers the canopies of rainforests.
  • Sri Lanka Blue Magpie (Urocissa ornata): This brightly colored bird with a mix of blue and chestnut plumage is a treat to spot in the rainforests of Sri Lanka.

What Is Another National Animal of Sri Lanka?

The Sri Lankan Elephant (Elephas maximus maximus) holds the title of Sri Lanka’s national animal. This majestic creature, a subspecies of the Asian elephant, is the largest of all Asian elephants. Its dark grey, almost black skin sets it apart from its other Asian counterparts.

Historically, these elephants have played significant roles in cultural, religious, and ceremonial events, notably the grand “Esala Perahera” in Kandy, a traditional procession with adorned elephants.

Despite their cultural significance, Sri Lankan elephants face numerous challenges, including habitat loss and human-elephant conflicts. Conservation efforts are in place to ensure their survival and to strike a balance between human development and elephant conservation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Sri Lankan Junglefowl the same as a rooster?

No, while they may look similar due to their vivid colors and comb, the Sri Lankan Junglefowl is a wild bird endemic to Sri Lanka and is distinct from domesticated roosters.

Where can I spot the Sri Lankan Junglefowl in the wild?

Popular places to spot the Sri Lankan Junglefowl in their natural habitat include national parks like Kitulgala, Yala, and Sinharaja.

How is the Sri Lankan Elephant important to Sri Lanka’s culture?

The Sri Lankan Elephant plays a crucial role in religious and cultural events, notably in traditional processions and ceremonies. Their majestic presence symbolizes strength, wealth, and nobility in Sri Lankan culture.

Is it true that the Sri Lankan Junglefowl contributed genes to the domestic chicken?

Yes, evidence suggests that there has been introgressive hybridization from the Sri Lankan Junglefowl to the domestic chicken.

Are there conservation efforts for the Sri Lankan Junglefowl?

Yes, being the national bird of Sri Lanka, there are regulations against hunting or capturing the bird, and efforts are made to conserve its natural habitats.

Other National Symbols of Sri Lanka

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