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Sri Lanka: Rare bird sighting at W15 Hanthana Estate

Renowned for offering a host of unique experiences, W15 Hanthana Estate curates holidays that are truly worth your while. And for a recent group of guests, it was a magnificent moment when they happened upon the rarest of sightings – the first glimpse ever caught of a Lutino Sri Lankan Hanging Parrot. 

Situated in one of most picturesque regions of the country, W15 Hanthana Estate is the ideal place to relax and be pampered while also appreciating and exploring the wonder of nature. The team at W15 Sri Lanka are focused on sharing the exquisite environs of this beautifully restored tea plantation bungalow, having already spotted 13 endemic birds out of the 34 resident endemic bird species in the island. From hiking to butterfly spotting and scenic walks to star gazing, each guest is spoilt for choice when it comes to nature-inspired activities.

W15 Hanthana Estate enhances the guest experience through a plethora of activities – not only to appreciate nature but also to create a sense of adventure and exhilaration. And this certainly was the treat afforded to the lucky group of guests who had the chance to spot and enjoy the first sighting of this albino hanging parrot. 

Sri Lankan Hanging Parrots (Loriculus beryllinus) are resident endemic birds, vibrantly green in colour with a distinct red crown and an orange tint on its back. The chin and throat of the bird are pale blue and it sports an orange beak. Often found alone or in small groups, this hanging parrot has often been spotted around the grounds of the W15 Hanthana Estate.

However, this most recent sighting was of a Lutino (Leucistic) Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, which is in fact a bright yellow coloured parrot unlike the usual green. Upon careful observation of this bird, through pictures and videos, the W15 Sri Lanka team arrived at the conclusion that this was, indeed, a magnificent first glimpse of the Lutino Hanging Parrot. The team swiftly ensured this fact was confirmed by Professor Sarath Kotagama, Head of Academia, Department of Zoology (University of Colombo) and President of the Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka.   News of this sighting caused much ado among bird watchers in Sri Lanka, including Chitral Jayatilake, Head of Eco Tourism at Cinnamon Hotels, whose name is synonymous in using wildlife photography to promote Sri Lanka as a wildlife destination. 

Jayatilake came in search of “this elusive bird” and was “lost for words” at his experience. He said that “seeing an endemic is rare enough but we got lucky to see a yellow morphes hanging parrot.” He stated of his time at W15 Hanthana that “just being here itself is special” and praised the “delicious lunch at a spectacular location.” His advice was “If you want to see this rare bird, do not waste any time, get yourself to W15 and you will not be disappointed.” Wildlife photographer and business leader Sarinda Unamboowe also visited W15 Hanthana upon hearing the incredible news of this chance bird spotting. Unamboowe, an avid conservationist and published wildlife photographer, summed up his appreciation succinctly with a Facebook post captioned “And sometimes you get to photograph something truly special…Lutino Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot,” underneath a picture-perfect capture of the bird. 

Of his experience at W15 Hanthana Estate, he stated: “Not only is W15 a stunning location to stay at with superb service, it is also an excellent location to observe and photograph a multitude of endemic and migrant birds”.

W15 Hanthana is open to local tourists in the coming months and operates on strict covid-safe policies to enhance a satisfactory guest experience. W15 Hanthana is part of W15 Sri Lanka which operates W15 Weligama and W15 Escape Ahangama on the Southern Coast of Sri Lanka as well as W15 Colombo.

W15 Hanthana Estate