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Prof.Kotagama launches latest bird guide

April 4, 2010

Eminent ornithologist Prof. Sarath Kotagama will launch his latest guide to the birds of Sri Lanka with illustrations by world renowned wildlife artist Gamini Ratnaweera.

The new book “An Illustrated Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka” is a comprehensive handbook describing all the birds one can observe in this country. It has 382 pages with ‘all-inclusive’ details. The guide goes beyond identification tips of the birds and includes 26 snippets of information such as the habitat the bird lives in, its behaviour, breeding, threatened status etc. Each bird’s distribution is clearly marked on a coloured map including the global distribution of those migrating to Sri Lanka.

With 382 pages, 52 colour plates and 492 species description, the book is truly a condensed summary of all the birds found in Sri Lanka.

“An Illustrated Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka” will be launched on April 5 at the New Biology Lecture Theatre, University of Colombo at 5 p.m with a lecture on Birds of Sri Lanka by the author. The book is priced Rs.2000 but will also be available at a concessionary rate at the event. Admission is free.

Prof. Kotagama’s previous guide books are all out of print. His English guide published in 1994 sold out 5000 copies and his first comprehensive Sinhala field guide ‘Sirilaka Kurullo’ sold 20,000 copies helping to popularise birdwatching among a new and diverse set of Lankans.

Besides this increased bird interest in the country, in the 16 years that have passed since Kotagama & Fernando’s work, much has changed in Sri Lankan ornithology. New research has shown that the number of endemic species is in fact much higher than previously thought, and the increasing affordability of digital photography has served to make new sightings more easily verifiable. This new knowledge is, up to end 2009, reflected in this new book.

Celebrated bird artist Gamini Ratnavira has focused recently almost exclusively on the birds of the New World (he lives and works in California), but the series of plates he produced for this book are intended to depict especially those characteristics a birdwatcher would need to identify a bird and differentiate it from similar species. The guide also gives the Sinhala and Tamil names for all birds.

The author is planning to have a more condensed version of the guide that will be easier to use in the field. The Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka (FOGSL) also plans to publish Sinhala and Tamil translations of the guidebook as their contribution to making available bird information to everyone in the country.

Posted on the online version of SundayTimes on 03.04.2010