Of the Birds of the island, upwards of three hundred and twenty species have been indicated, for which we are indebted to the persevering labours of Dr. Templeton, Dr. Kelaart, and Mr. Layard; but many yet remain to be identified. In fact, to the eye of a stranger, their prodigious numbers, and especially the myriads of waterfowl which, notwithstanding the presence of the crocodiles, people the lakes and marshes in the eastern provinces, form one of the marvels of Ceylon.
In the glory of their plumage, the birds of the interior are surpassed by those of South America and Northern India; and the melody of their song bears no comparison with that of the warblers of Europe, but the want of brilliancy is compensated by their singular grace of form, and the absence of prolonged and modulated harmony by the rich and melodious tones of their clear and musical calls. In the elevations of the Kandyan country there are a few, such as the robin of Neuera-ellia and the long-tailed thrush, whose song rivals that of their European namesakes; but, far beyond the attraction of their notes, the traveller rejoices in the flute-like voices of the Oriole, the Dayal-bird, and some others equally charming; when at the first dawn of day, they wake the forest with their clear reveil.
[Footnote 1: Pratincola atrata, Kelaart.]
[Footnote 2: Kittacincla macrura, Gm.]
[Footnote 3: Copsychussaularis, Linn.. Called by the Europeans in Ceylon the “Magpie Robin.” This is not to be confounded with the other popular favourite the “Indian Robin” (Thamnobia fulicata, Linn.), which is “never seen in the unfrequented jungle, but, like the coco-nut palm, which the Singhalese assert will only flourish within the sound of the human voice, it is always found near the habitations of men.”—E.L. LAYARD.]