Devil Bird of Sri Lanka

Zoologist Benard Heuvelmans has often been attributed to fathering crypotozology within the twentieth century. In his career, he believed creatures mentioned in myth and folklore were actually unknown species which he employed the scientific method in proving their existence. Such cases that demonstrated Heuvelmans hypotheses are the giant squid, ziphius, bondegezou and Okapi. As indicated in a pass podcast, one modern account of a cryptid identified is the Devil Bird of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is an island country near the south west of India in South Asia. At night, one could hear bloodcurdling screams echoing through out the countryside. Locals believed the sounds emitted from the supernatural creature they know as Ulama or the Devil Bird. Legend say to hear its cries would mean intimate death, much like the banshee of Irish folklore. Very few have ever seen the creature and those who claim to have caught a glance and lucky not to hear the scream describe the creature to be a massive bird, with a large tale, horns protruding from the head along with either piercing black or glowing eyes.

According to legend, the origins of the Devil Bird begins centuries ago involving a family. A husband who doubted the paternity of his son in a rage of jealousy, murdered the child and made a curry with the remains. He then served it his wife and while eating found her son’s finger in the bowl. The woman ran off into the forest horrified where she killed herself and her spirit transformed into the Devil Bird to forever screaming in grief. The legend made the creature a well known avian cryptid in Sri Lanka with its cries continuing to be heard at night. Over the years, the general consensus among many, especially scientist, that such a creature could not exist, until over a decade ago.

Dr. R.L. Spittel had investigated to identifying the Devil Bird believing the creature had to be a local unknown species. In 2001, villagers found an unusual bird which was classified to be a new avian breed the Spot-bellied Eagle-owl and determined by Spittel to be the cryptid. In his research, the animal resembled in appearance to the Ulama of legend and its screech sound human-like. Many would consider the cryptid solved yet locals of Shri Lanka would argue the sound made by the Eagle-Owl is not the same to what they hear at night while some scientist speculate other avian species on the island to be the true Devil Bird.


Newton, Michael. Hidden Animals: A Field Guide to Batsquatch, Chupacabra, and other Elusive Creatures. USA: Library of Congress. 2009


Image of of the Spot-bellied Eagle-owl

4 thoughts on “Devil Bird of Sri Lanka

  1. mewanthasays

    The bird exists and its true people here believe that it is a bad sign to hear the bird’s cry. And the bird’s cry is heard at nights but its very rare, thats why villagers here has this superstition about this bird which has led to the creation of the forklore.
    BTW its nice to see a post on a Sri Lankan bird 🙂



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