Ceylon Blue Magpie, Endemic bird
(Sri Lanka Blue Magpie)
Sinhalese – Kehi bella
Tamil – Keki-sembu kuruvi
One of the most spectacular birds of Sri Lanka, the Ceylon Blue Magpie inhabits dense, virgin forests of the wet zone and the hill country. It is between a House Crow and a Mynah in size. Its gorgeous blue and chestnut plumage seen against a backdrop of verdant green is a sight to behold. It is a very active and noisy bird which moves about in small flocks. Occasionally pairs or solitary birds are met with. The bird inhabits all levels of the forest, from the tops of tall trees to ground level. It hops about actively examining every nook and crevice for the small reptiles like geckos and lizards, frogs, insects and larvae on which it feeds. It also feeds on various kinds if fruit. While thus engaged, the bird adopts many acrobatic poses reminiscent of those of a tit. The Blue Magpie is a noisy bird, especially in rainy weather. The calls are usually harsh and raucous but at times clear bell like calls are uttered. It is a scarce and shy bird but locally common and bolder. The Sinharaja forest reserve is a good place to observe the bird.
Breeding commences in January. The nest is strongly constructed with sticks, resembling that of a crow but smaller and lined with fine rootlets. It is placed amongst foliage at the top of a sapling or small tree, generally about 5 to 7 meters from ground level. In recent times nests have been regularly found in the Sinharaja forest reserve. The eggs usually number four. The eggs are whitish to yellowish in ground colour, speckled and blotched all over with pale red and dark buff-brown markings.
Nesting birds of Ceylon Blue Magpie were photographed in colour for the first time in 1979 at Sinharaja by Dr T S U De Zylva.