The Devil Bird, or Ulama, is a frightening horned bird of Sri Lankan folklore. This elusive creature is rarely seen, but is often heard in the form of its infamous, blood-curdling screams. Its cries are said to resemble a wailing woman and are perceived by locals as an omen of death. For centuries, the nocturnal cries of the Devil Bird were the only evidence of its existence; Western science wrote if off as mere superstition.
Then, in 2001, the Devil Bird was identified as a new species of owl, the spot-bellied eagle owl (bubo nipalensis). The largest of all Sri Lankan owls, the bubo nipalensis matches the description of the Ulama perfectly, down to its characteristic screech and tufted “horns”. Although some debate still remains as to the true identity of the Devil-Bird, the spot-bellied eagle owl stands as the most compelling source of inspiration for this mysterious creature.