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List of Birds
Noting those found during
Focus On Nature Tours
1996 thru 2015
Those with an
(*) found during FONT tours,
with the months in red indicating when seen
during FONT tours.
There have been 20 FONT tours in Iceland.
They have been during the months of
May, June, September, and October.
This list and text compiled and written by Armas Hill
There are 386 species of birds in this list, one of which, the Great Auk, is extinct.
(ICr): rare in Iceland
(ph): with a photo here in the FONT website
Links within this List:
Icelandic Breeding Birds Waterfowl (Swan, Geese, Ducks) Divers (or Loons)
Raptors Waders (or Shorebirds) Skuas, Gulls, Tern Alcids Owl Passerines
Former Icelandic Breeding Birds including the Great Auk and the Water Rail
Common Migrants in Iceland Geese Waders Gull Alcid Thrushes (Turdus)
Shearwaters Swallow & Martin
to Rare Visitors to Iceland
Skuas, Gulls Pigeons, Doves Owls a Swift Passerine Birds
Vagrants in Iceland Quail Waterfowl Divers, Albatross, Storm-Petrel, Grebes
Storks, Spoonbill, Ibis Bitterns, Herons, Egrets Raptors Crakes & Allies, Cranes
Waders Gulls & Terns Doves Cuckoos Owl, Nightjar, Nighthawk Swift
Woodpeckers Tyrant Flycatchers Shrikes Vireo Swallows Old World Warblers
Kinglet, Nuthatch Starling Thrushes Chats & Old World Flycatchers Pipits & Wagtails
Finches New World Warblers New World Orioles & Blackbirds Sparrows & Buntings
Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Iceland Upcoming FONT Tours Elsewhere
of Birds found during previous FONT Iceland Tours
A List & Photo Gallery of European Birds, in 2 Parts:
Part #1: Grouse to Puffins Part #2: Sandgrouse to Buntings
Iceland Marine Life Iceland Wildflowers and some Other Plants
FONT Past Tour Highlights Photo Galleries & Narratives from past FONT tours
Directory of Photos in the FONT Website
A Rock Ptarmigan photographed during a FONT tour in Iceland
during the month of October
(photo by Alan Brady)
1) ICELANDIC BREEDING BIRDS
1. Rock Ptarmigan (ph) (*)
May Jun Oct
The Rock Ptarmigan breeds in Iceland in heathland, copses, scrubby areas, and well-vegetated lava fields, from the seashore to the mountains. In the mountains, they occur only rarely higher than the vegetation line.
In the autumn, birds from lower elevations head for the mountains, with adults doing so first as the summer wanes, and young birds following later. By the beginning of October, the majority of Icelandic Ptarmigans have arrived at their winter feeding grounds in the mountains, when they can find shelter against the weather by burying themselves in the snow, particularly on more protected slopes. At times, however, when snow and ice cover the ground, the birds are forced to seek food in the lowlands - on hillsides, in scrub, and even, at times, in towns and villages.
In Iceland, Ptarmigans are most common in Pineevjarsysla, in the northern part of the country.
The Rock Ptarmigan population in Iceland fluctuates in 10-year cycles. The maximum may be ten times the minimum population.
The Rock Ptarmigan has a circumpolar population, with as many as 27 subspecies.
The subspecies of the Rock Ptarmigan in Iceland is Lagopus mutus islandorum. That of Greenland, Lagopus mutus captus, has also been found in Iceland. It is slightly larger than the Icelandic subspecies, and has white patches in the primaries.
In the winter, when there is snow on the ground, both sexes of the Rock Ptarmigan are almost entirely white. In the summer, when the earth is bare, the birds are brown. Thus they have a year-round protective coat against predators. However, the male remains white longer than the female, until late in the spring. Even though the summer plumage of both sexes begins to appear at the end of April, just the female fully attains that brown plumage by the end of May, when she starts to incubate the eggs.
The male Ptarmigan does not attain its full summer plumage until late in June. From late-April to mid-June, when the males are actively flaunting themselves, and courting females and claiming and defending nesting territories, they are quite conspicuous and an easier prey for predators such as the Gyrfalcon. It is estimated that as many as a third of male Ptarmigans during that time of year fall prey. But this high mortality does not have an impact on the overall Ptarmigan population, as the new birds of the year are incubated and reared by the females, and the young males move into territories of fallen predecessors.
The Rock Ptarmigan is the only Icelandic bird to live all year almost entirely on plant food. Young Ptarmigan chicks feed to a certain extent on insects, but adults feed almost exclusively on foliage, flowers, and berries during the summer, and on buds and stalks in the winter.
The chicks feed on then insects as they need energy-rich food in order to grow quickly. When the young are about 4 weeks of age, they become independent of their mother.
Male Rock Ptarmigans vocalize with sounds that are dry and cackling, whose those of females are repetitively cackling.
The legs of the Rock Ptarmigan are short and feathered. They are also powerful. The bird is a good walker, and it runs well.
Rock Ptarmigans fly fast and low with rapid wingbeats. They glide with curved wings.
Ptarmigan hunting was formerly a professional occupation in Iceland. In the late 1920s, about 250,000 birds were exported annually. In accordance with present legislation, however, the hunting of Ptarmigan is only permitted between October 15 and December 22, and it is now just an amateur sport, and not a way of making a living.
A Rock Ptarmigan doing a "dust bath",
photographed during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2015
(photo by Marie Gardner)
2. Whooper Swan (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
The Whooper Swan is the largest Icelandic bird. The cob is a bit heavier than the pen. The species is common throughout Iceland, both in the highlands and lowlands.
In October, there are an estimated 10,000 to 11,000 Whooper Swans in Iceland, with just under 20 per cent of them immature birds. Thus, the total number of adult swans being about 8,600.
Most of the Whooper Swans of Iceland are migratory, with most wintering in the British Isles, the majority in Ireland.
A few hundred stay in Iceland as year-round residents, haunting fresh water rivers and lakes in the winter that remain relatively free of ice. If (or when) the weather worsens, they move to the coast and dwell in shallow bays and firths where there are large ebb-tides and large amounts of eelgrass, their favorite food that time of year.
Those that migrate return to their nesting sites as soon as the ice melts on the lakes, but breeding does not begin until the latter part of May.
Whooper Swans nest dispersively, with usually only 1 breeding pair per lake or tract of sedge, although there can be more nests by larger lakes with greater vegetation.
An adult Whooper Swan with 3 cygnets during the FONT
Iceland Tour in June 2012
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
3. Greylag Goose (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
Unusual, but the "Eastern Greylag Goose", Anser anser rubrirostris, has occurred in Iceland.
4. Pink-footed Goose (ph) (*) Jun Sep Oct
In Iceland, the Pink-footed Goose nests mainly in the highlands, whereas the Greylag Goose does so in the lowlands.
But in recent years, as the population of the Pink-footed Goose has been increasing, nesters have been spreading down large river valleys and elsewhere in the lowlands. Some nesting locations are used year after year. Preferred breeding areas are upland marshy areas, or on the banks of rivers and lakes. Nests are on a tussock or some other prominent place.
The main breeding locale of the Pink-footed Goose in Iceland is the Pjorsaver, where there is one of the largest goose colonies in the world. An estimated 10,000 pairs of Pink-footed Geese breed there. There are another 2,000 or so breeding pairs at smaller nesting sites elsewhere in the central highlands.
Additionally, another 4,000 non-breeding Pink-footed Geese dwell in the highlands of Iceland in the latter part of the summer, also chiefly at Pjorsarver.
Note: the numbers just indicated in this paragraph have probably increased in recent years.
Pink-footed Geese also breed in eastern Greenland, and those birds travel in Iceland as migrants in the spring and autumn.
The total Pink-footed Goose population of Iceland and Greenland combined in the autumn has grown ten-fold during recent decades, from about 23,000 birds in 1952 to 230,000 birds in 1995. These birds winter in northern England and Scotland. They depart from Iceland during October.
A separate population breeds on Svalbard. Those birds winter from Denmark to Belgium.
The Pink-footed Goose has a high-pitched call, somewhat shrill.
Pink-footed Geese during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2012.
Above: an adult with its pink feet. Below: a gosling.
(photos by Gabriel Hauser)
Below, a group of Pink-footed Geese
during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2015
(photo by Marie Gardner)
5. Common Shelduck (ICr) (*) Jun
The Common Shelduck was a vagrant in Iceland until 1990, when it first bred.
It has bred almost annually since, in Borgarfjordur in western Iceland, and Eyjafjordur in northern Iceland (where the first breeding occurred).
Numbers, which have been 5 to 10 pairs annually, have been rising.
In southern Iceland, Common Shelducks have been seen now (in 2015) for about 10 years, by the Olfusa Rover in Selfoss.
11 Common Shelducks arrived in Hofn, on the southeast Iceland coast, on March 15, 2015. Two arrived at Selfoss on March 7, 2015.
Most Icelandic birds seem to be migrants, but their wintering areas are not known. Some have been occasionally seen in Iceland in the winter. Nesting sites in Iceland have been in or under outhouses and summer cabins.
A Common Shelduck feeding on a tidal mudflat, as that species often does.
This was the first Common Shelduck seen during a FONT tour in Iceland,
in June 2015.
(photo by Marie Gardner)
6. Mallard (ph) (*) May Jun
7. Gadwall (ph) (*) Jun Oct
8. Northern Pintail (ph) (*) Jun
9. Eurasian Wigeon (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
10. Eurasian Teal (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
A pair of Eurasian Teal during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2015
(photo by Marie Gardner)
11. Northern Shoveler (ph)
12. Tufted Duck (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
A female Tufted Duck during the FONT Iceland Tour in Sep/Oct 2013
(photo by Alan Mitchnick)
13. Greater Scaup (*) Jun Oct
14. Barrow's Goldeneye (ph) (*) Jun Sep Oct
The main breeding area of the Barrow's Goldeneye is in the northern part of North America.
The Barrow's Goldeneye is one of three species of birds in Iceland that are more "American" than "European". The other two are the Harlequin Duck and the Common Loon. The Red Phalarope, with a small number nesting in Iceland, can also be added to that category. As could have been the Great Auk, now extinct, that bred more in North America than in Europe.
Also, the Barrow's Goldeneye is said to be a very rare breeding bird in western Greenland. But aside from that, Iceland is the only place where the Barrow's Goldeneye breeds in Europe. It has occurred as a vagrant in continental Europe and the in the Faeroe Islands, with those birds probably having come from Iceland.
The population of the Barrow's Goldeneye in Iceland seems to have remained quite stable over the years, at about 800 pairs.
Barrow's Goldeneyes nest naturally in holes and in crevices in lava, as well as in ready-prepared boxes and even in outhouses or in the stone walls of buildings. In Icelandic, it has thus been called the "house-duck".
The nest of the Barrow's Goldeneye is lined with down.
The principal breeding locations in Iceland are at Lake Myvatn, a large eutrophic lake, and by the nearby Laxa River, in the northeastern part of the island. Elsewhere in the country, there are just a few pairs.
The Barrow's Goldeneye winters at or near the nesting places, and on unfrozen lakes and along rivers in southern Iceland, notably the Sog River, where sometimes the species can be seen in the late-spring and summer.
Barrow's Goldeneyes photographed during the FONT Iceland Tour in Sep/Oct 2013.
(photo by Alan Mitchnick)
15. Long-tailed Duck (t3) (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
Above & below: a male Long-tailed Duck in breeding plumage
during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2015
(photos by Marie Gardner)
16. Harlequin Duck (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
In Europe, the Harlequin breeds, and regularly occurs, only in Iceland and Greenland. Otherwise, the species breeds in northeast Canada, western North America, northeast Siberia, and northern Japan.
The Harlequin population in Iceland is not very large, estimated as being from 2,000 to 3,000 pairs.
In the summer, it is distributed throughout the country, including the central highlands. Icelandic birds are resident on the island. They winter all around the coastline, especially where it is steep and rocky, and where the sea tends to be rough.
They occur in small groups, and they are fond of being in the surf. In Iceland, the Harlequin is referred to as the "surf-duck".
An area of Iceland with numerous Harlequins in the winter is the Reykjanes Peninsula, along the south and west coasts.
In April, Icelandic Harlequins enter bays and firths and gather in groups in river estuaries. In May, they undertake a journey, sometimes lengthy, up the rivers to where they will breed. Their prime nesting areas are where fast-flowing rivers exit lakes that are rich in vegetation and animal life - for example, the Laxa River near lake Myvatn. Harlequins during their breeding season live mostly on animal food such as gnat larvae and pupae.
As the summer progresses, Harlequins remain on the rivers with their young until they are fully fledged. In September, they all depart for the coast. It is after they arrive there that they moult.
Above: a pair of Harlequin Ducks in the rushing
water of a river in Iceland
Below: a female Harlequin Duck with young
The only place where this species normally occurs in Europe is Iceland.
(upper photo by Gabriel Hauser; lower photo by Howard Eskin)
17. Common Scoter (*) May Jun Sep Oct
A male Common Scoter during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2015
in an area where the species nests.
(photo by Marie Gardner)
18. Common Eider (ph) (*) May
Jun Sep Oct
It is in the autumn that Common Eiders are most numerous in Iceland. During that season, there are at least half a million of them.
In the fall, 100,000 to 200,000 drakes moult on Faxafloi Bay in southwest Iceland. Some birds that breed in eastern Greenland winter, and probably moult, in Iceland,
Common Eiders are generally on or near the ocean, during both the breeding and non-breeding seasons. A few do breed by rivers and lakes up to about 20 kilometers from the sea.
Common Eiders eat only marine organisms, but their diet can vary at different times of the year. A duck and her chicks, in shallow waters, feed mostly on sand hoppers. As winter progresses, Common Eiders feed on capelin, congregating at the capelin's spawning grounds to eat the roe. Common Eiders also gather in fishing harbors to feed on fish waste.
Throughout Icelandic history, the Common Eider has been utilized by man, and it still is today. In earlier times, the flesh and eggs of the bird were considered more valuable than its down. But now in Iceland the Eider is a protected bird, and the down is the product that matters. Each bird, as it molts, provides about 17 grams of pure down every year, adding up to a national total in Iceland of about 2,000 kilograms per year, and this providing income for the approximately 250 eider breeding ground owners. The eider-farmers collect the down only sparingly while the duck and her chicks are still in the nest. The remainder of it is taken once the birds have left for the sea.
and below: male Common Eiders
Above: in flight, during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2015.
Below: during the FONT Iceland Tour in Sep/Oct 2013.
Notice in the lower photo, the greenish and pinkish colors
in the bird's breeding plumage.
(upper photo by Marie Gardner,
lower photo by Alan Mitchnick)
19. Common Merganser (or Goosander) (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
20. Red-breasted Merganser (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
DIVERS (or LOONS)
21. Red-throated Loon (or
Red-throated Diver) (ph) (*)
May Jun Sep Oct
The Red-throated Loon, or Red-throated Diver, with its gray neck and head and burgundy throat, is about two-thirds the size of the Common Loon, or Great Northern Diver.
It occurs throughout Iceland, especially in the lowlands. It nests mostly by lakes and ponds, and occasionally by calm rivers.
Unlike the Common Loon, the Red-throated Loon often nests by small lakes surrounded by rushes and without fish. in such cases, it finds its food in other nearby lakes, or even out at sea flying considerable distances to do so. Red-throated Loons and Common Loons rarely breed by the same lake.
The Red-throated Loon breeds in northern countries all around the world. Most that nest in Iceland are migratory, wintering along the coasts of western Europe.
A Red-throated Loon during the FONT Iceland Tour in June
In Europe (where Iceland is), the English name for the species is Red-throated Diver.
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
22. Common Loon (or Great Northern Diver) (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
Globally, the main area for the Common Loon, or Great Northern Diver, as a breeder is the northern part of North America. Elsewhere, it nests in Iceland. It also has nested in Greenland and on Bear island near Svalbard, but nowhere else in Europe.
Birds from Iceland either winter off the coast of western Europe, including Britain and Ireland, or off the coast of Iceland.
There is a maximum of about 300 nesting pairs of Common Loons in Iceland, where the species is widely distributed. It prefers large, deep, trout-filled lakes in remote moors and mountains. The species normally does not nest at lakes without fish, or where there is a large amount of vegetation, or where there is teeming birdlife. Unless a lake is quite large, there generally is only 1 breeding pair of Common Loons on a body of water.
Common Loons arrive at their nesting sites as soon as the ice melts on the lakes. They lay their eggs either in late May or early June. By late August or September, they usually are out at sea.
A Common Loon during the FONT Iceland Tour in June
in Europe (where Iceland is), the English name for the species is Great Northern Diver.
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
23. Northern Fulmar (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
The marked increase, and spread, in the population of the Northern Fulmar in the North Atlantic during the last 200 years has been well documented. It is written that there was a single colony in Iceland in 1640. That is almost unbelievable. It is one of the most common species in Iceland today throughout the coastal regions of the country.
A pair of Northern Fulmars at a cliffside nest,
photographed during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2015.
(photo by Marie Gardner)
24. Manx Shearwater (*) Jun
From 8 to 10 thousand pairs of Manx
Shearwaters nest during the summer in Iceland, particularly on the Westmann
Islands, off the southern coast. The bird can be seen offshore at various places
off the southern and southwestern coasts of Iceland from the spring to autumn.
During the Northern Winter, the Manx Shearwater is in the South Atlantic, particularly off southern South America, occurring in numbers off the coast of Argentina.
When at sea, Manx Shearwaters feed mostly on small pelagic fish. When they come back from the sea to their nests, the parent Manx Shearwaters feed their chicks regurgitated fish and fish oil, The chicks soon grow fat.
Manx Shearwaters in Iceland often gather in flocks, doing so often in the evenings during the late summer. Such flocks can be seen on the sea around the Vestmannaeyjar (the Westmann Islands).
25. European Storm-Petrel
An estimated 100,000 pairs of European Storm Petrels nest in Iceland. The largest Icelandic colony is on Ellidaey island, in the Westman Island group, off the southern coast of the country. There are also colonies on two other islands in the Westmanns, as well as on Ingolfshofdi off southern Iceland, and on Skrudur Island off eastern Iceland. The species also nests in Europe in the Faeroe islands, the British Isles, and coastally south to the Mediterranean.
In the autumn, the European Storm Petrel heads toward the South Atlantic Ocean, wintering as far south as the coast of South Africa.
In their nesting colonies, European Storm Petrels prefer to nest under stones, among boulders, or in rocky crevices.
During the day, by colonies of European Storm Petrels and those of the following species, the Leach's Storm Petrel, one would hardly be aware of the birds at their nesting areas, but during the Icelandic short night of summer, in the darkness, suddenly there are swarms of them flying back and forth to sea.
In a storm petrel nesting colony, of either of these two species, if a person were to put his or her ear next to the cracks and crevices, he or she would hear a purring sound from the sitting birds, not unlike the purring of a contented cat.
The European Storm Petrel is not much bigger than a Snow Bunting.
26. Leach's Storm-Petrel (*) Jun
Maybe as many as 150,000 pairs of Leach's Storm Petrels nest in Iceland. The world's largest populations of what has been the Leach's Storm Petrel (there are various widespread subspecies) are in Newfoundland, Canada, and at various places in the Pacific Ocean. The species is rare in Europe.
The largest European colony of the Leach's Storm Petrel is on Ellidaey island in the Westmann Islands, off southern Iceland, It also nests on most islands of the archipelago where Atlantic Puffins do. Leach's Storm Petrels sometimes nest at the bottom of a deep burrow, In Iceland, they are known to make a burrow further out from that of a Puffin. Sometimes Leach's Storm Petrels nest among boulders, but usually they make nesting burrows in grass or turf, as do Manx Shearwaters.
Additional nesting locations for Leach's Storm Petrels in Iceland also include Ingolfshofoi in the south, and perhaps Skrudur Island in the east. The species winters in the South Atlantic Ocean.
The Leach's Storm Petrel is similar in size to a Starling.
On April 10, 2011, a Leach's Storm Petrel was found, blown inland, by Highway 1 about 15 kilometers east of Selfoss.
27. Horned Grebe (or Slavonian Grebe) (ph) (*) Jun Oct
The Horned Grebe, or the Slavonian Grebe as its called in Europe, is an attractive and colorful bird in breeding plumage, as it is in Iceland in the spring and summer. It is the only bird that nests in Iceland with a nest that floats. That nest is made of rotting marsh vegetation, and often is situated in thick swathes of sedges and rushes. The base of the nest is attached to surrounding plants so that it does not get swept away, and it can rise or fall with any change in water level.
In Iceland, the bird is most common as a nester at Lake Myvatn, where there are about 250 breeding pairs. It is also rather common elsewhere in the northeastern part of the island and in Skagafjordur. Now, however, it rarely breeds elsewhere in the country. The total nesting population in Iceland is estimated at about 500 pairs.
The Horned Grebe in Iceland is mostly migratory. It arrives at its nesting areas in April, just as the ice has melted on the lakes. Departure from the breeding grounds is in late September or October. A few remain off the southwestern coast of Iceland all winter, but many of the Icelandic breeding birds winter off the coasts of western Europe.
At lakes where they breed, Horned Grebes eat insects such as water beetles and midge larvae. When at sea, during the winter, they feed mostly on small fish and crustaceans.
A Horned Grebe photographed during a FONT tour in
That tour was in the late spring, as the bird was in breeding plumage.
In Europe (where Iceland is), the English name for the species is Slavonian Grebe.
(photo by Cheryl Pearce)
28. European Shag (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
A European Shag photographed during a FONT tour in Iceland.
If you look very closely, you'll see that the bird has green eyes.
29. Great Cormorant (*) May Jun Sep Oct
30. Northern Gannet (ph) (*) Jun Sep Oct
The breeding grounds of the large, striking seabird, the Northern Gannet, are on both the western and eastern sides of the North Atlantic Ocean.
In Iceland, there are now 8 colonies of Northern Gannets. Four of them, in southern Iceland, are on outer isles in the Westmann Islands: Sulnasker, Geldungur, Hellisey, and Brandur. Other colonies are at Raudinupur on Melrakkasletta, on the Langanes Peninsula, and on the Isle of Skrudur, offshore from Faskrudsfjordur. Some of these Icelandic colonies are new since the 1940s.
Conversely, one colony, in northern Iceland, on Grimsey Island, became extinct in 1946.
But it is on Eldey Island, about 14 kilometers southwest of the Reykjanes Peninsula, in southern Iceland, where there is the largest gannet colony in the country. It is the third largest gannet colony in the world, after those at St. Kilda and Grassholm in the British Isles. About 60 per cent of the 25,000 nesting pairs of Northern Gannets in Iceland occur at Eldey.
In the Icelandic language, a name for the Northern Gannet refers to it as the ""Queen of the Atlantic"". That name is derived from the gracefulness of the bird in flight.
The Northern Gannet is a swimmer and a diver. It dives, with folded wings, from as high as 150 feet in the air, entering the water at a tremendous speed. But it does not stay underwater long, rarely for more than 6 seconds. Nor does it go deeply, usually to 10 feet or so under the surface.
Northern Gannets generally depart Iceland from October to December. Those that bred in Iceland have been observed in the winter from the west coast of mainland Europe south to West Africa.
31. White-tailed Eagle (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
The White-tailed Eagle is the rarest and the largest of the 3 species of raptors that normally occur in Iceland. The female is notably larger and heavier than the male. The bill of the bird is large and thick. The legs are big and powerful. The talons are grooved to enable it to grasp slippery fish in its claws. The White-tailed Eagle is one of eight related species in the world referred to as "sea-eagles".
The White-tailed Eagle does not attain its plumage as a full adult until it is 6 years old. A juvenile is much darker than an adult. At 3 years of age, the head becomes lighter in color and the middle tail feathers become white. By the 4th year, the whole tail is almost white. During its 5th year, the bird closely resembles the adult eagle.
The White-tailed Eagle existed in Iceland long before people settled there, but the birds were not common. It is thought that the maximum number of White-tailed Eagles on the island would have been between 200 and 300 pairs, and it is possible that there were never more than 100 to 200 pairs. The species historically occurred throughout Iceland, but more so in the western part of the island.
There was a sudden decline in the White-tailed Eagle population in Iceland in the late 19th Century, during an era when birds of prey in Europe were persecuted, and there was even an attempt to exterminate the eagle in Iceland. Some people, particularly farmers, were pleased with the sharp decrease in the number of eagles.
Others thought that the demise of the White-tailed Eagle would be regrettable. So, in 1913 a law was passed to protect it in Iceland - that law was to be effect for 5 years. It was then renewed for another 20 years. And, now, to this day, it has never been repealed. Thus the White-tailed Eagle has been a protected species in Iceland since 1913, and thus saved from extinction in the country.
However, through most of the years of the 20th Century, the population of Icelandic White-tailed Eagles remained low. In the summer of 1959 it was thought that there were 38 White-tailed Eagles still in existence in Iceland. Since then, the population of the species has been under annual surveillance by the Icelandic Society for the Protection of Birds. In 1964, another law was enacted forbidding the poisoning of carcasses in order to kill Arctic Foxes. It had become known that young eagles also died from eating such poisoned carrion. It is now estimated that there are 35 to 40 adult pairs of White-tailed Eagles in Iceland and additional juvenile birds.
The nest of the White-tailed Eagle in Iceland is unpretentious, often only a hollow in vegetation lined with a bit or moss or seaweed. Adult eagles, that mate for life, have territories that are generally very extensive. Eagle pairs do not necessarily the same eyrie each year. Actually some pairs change nests frequently. But the birds often establish a nocturnal roosting place, usually not too far from the nest, to which they remain faithful, using it both in and out of the breeding season. In Iceland, adult eagles rarely visit a nest from October through December.
Globally, the White-tailed Eagle is distributed from western Greenland east across Europe and Asia to the Pacific.
In Europe, the White-tailed Eagle is classified as "rare", although since the 1960s it has been recovering after its critically low-level resulting from persecution and environmental contamination. Today, the European country with the most White-tailed Eagles is Norway with 1,500 pairs, followed by Poland with about 200 pairs, and Greenland with from 150 to 175 pairs.
An adult White-tailed Eagle photographed during a FONT tour
32. Gyrfalcon (ph) (*) May Jun Oct
The Gyrfalcon is the largest of the world's falcons. There is a notable difference in size between the sexes, with the female being larger. The male weighs about 1200 grams. The female weighs about 1800 grams.
In old literature, naturalists wrote about white, gray, and black "color phases or morphs" of Gyrfalcons, and even about "different species" of Gyrs. Actually, the different plumage types grade imperceptibly into one another, with an array of intermediate forms being found.
Generally, the High Arctic breeders in Greenland and the Canadian Arctic islands are mostly white (the candicans type). White birds occur less frequently in the Low Arctic regions, and they are not found at all as breeders in Iceland, where the resident population consists mostly of light gray individuals (the islandus type), nor in Scandinavia and Russian Arctic, where the Gyrs are mostly dark gray to bluish gray (the gyrfalco type).
White Gyrfalcons do occur in eastern Siberia, in the Bering Sea region, in western Alaska, and to a limited extent on the Arctic Slope of Alaska, but not at all in subarctic breeding populations.
Black Gyrs (the labradorus type described by Audubon) are most common in Quebec and Labrador, and are occasionally encountered across the American Arctic. The Ungava region of northern Quebec is especially interesting, as the whitest and blackest types breed together in the same areas along with a number of birds with an intermediate gray coloration.
The Gyrfalcon in Iceland has a grayish back and a pale, somewhat yellowish breast with brown streaks and spots. The young birds are white at first, but they quickly darken. In fact, the immature Gyrfalcons are considerably darker than adults. The talons of immature Gyrfalcons are bluish. Those of adults are bright yellow.
Gryfalcons in Iceland are year-round residents on the island. The population is estimated as being from 200 to 400 pairs. The Gyrfalcon population fluctuates with the Ptarmigan population. Gryfalcons are most common in Iceland in the northern part of the country, particularly in Pingeyjarsysla, and in Vestfirdir.
A few decades ago, an Icelandic student studied the population of Gyrfalcons in his country. He tabulated data from about 200 nests. During good Ptarmigan years, he figured that there were from 300 to 400 nesting pairs of Gyrfalcons throughout Iceland. In his study area of 2,000 square miles, there were at least 35 cliffs occupied by Gyrfalcons. In that area, 24 pairs produced about 70 young, even though Ptarmigan that year were not especially numerous. With an area of 33,500 square miles, excluding glaciers, it can be said that Iceland has the densest regional population of Gyrfalcons in the world, with approximately one pair per 60 to 115 square miles.
In nearby Greenland, the size of the Gyrfalcon population is highly uncertain, with maybe from 500 to 1,000 pairs. Gyrfalcons that spend much of the year along both of the coasts of Greenland have been found to migrate, on occasion, in the winter from those coasts, out over the sea southeast to Iceland and southwest into the Canadian Arctic.
In the population of Gyrfalcons that are resident in Iceland, pairs often change nesting sites from year to year, but they stay within the breeding territory that they established, and to which they remain loyal for years. Pairs of Gyrfalcons can remain on their territories all year, both in and out of their breeding season.
The nests of Gyrfalcons are usually at places that are difficult or impossible to reach, as on the rocky cliffs of mountains and river canyons. The breeding season begins early in the spring, usually in April. The young birds are fully fledged by mid-July, after 6 to 7 weeks in the nest. After fledging, they remain near the nest for another month or so, and the parents continue to bring food to them until they more proficiently hunt food for themselves. Once they are self-sufficient, the birds range over a large area. In Iceland, juvenile birds fly throughout the country, and are apt to be found at the seashore in mid-winter.
During the nesting season, the female Gyrfalcon incubates the eggs and later tends to the young, while the male provides food for the family and guards the nest from a nearby vantage point.
In Iceland, Gyrfalcons that nest near the coast prey upon a large number of seabirds, particularly Puffins. In the country overall, the Ptarmigan is the Gyrfalcon's most important prey during the spring and summer. Gyrfalcons feed mostly on male Ptarmigans during the spring when the grouse are such easy targets, being white against a dark background. When those Ptarmigan attain their darker plumage, Gyrfalcons may prey more upon birds of other species, such as shorebirds, ducks and geese and their young, and also newly fledged Ptarmigans. Gyrfalcons can seize their prey both on the ground and in the air.
During a recent study of Gyrfalcons in northeastern Iceland, it was found that Ptarmigans constituted about 80 per cent of the prey of the Gyrs of the heathland, not just in the spring and summer, but all year.
Historically, the Gyrfalcon was exported from Iceland for falconry, but more recently there has been a determination that the bird's status as a protected bird is to be respected. The Gyrfalcon has had that status in Iceland, as a protected species, since 1940. it is illegal to approach or photograph a Gyrfalcon nest without the permission of the Icelandic government (the Ministry of Education and Culture).
33. Merlin (ph) (*) Jun Sep Oct
The Merlin is both the smallest and the most numerous of the birds of prey in Iceland. The population, of from 500 to 1,000 pairs, is classified as an endemic subspecies, Falco columbarius subaesalon. It nests dispersively throughout the country.
The Merlins that breed in Iceland are mainly migratory. The majority leave the country in September and October for their wintering quarters in the British Isles and western Europe. A few, however, spend the winter in Iceland.
The Merlin preys on birds not much smaller than they are, including: Snow Buntings, Meadow Pipits, Wheatears, and Redwings. It even, on occasion, has been known to prey on birds that are larger, such as: Golden Plovers and Redshanks. It is also known to prey on young of other species: Ptarmigans, Whimbrel, and various ducks.
Merlins are cunning and daring, with no shortage of stamina. As fliers, they are very agile.
Unusually, but the "American Merlin", Falco columbarius columbarius, has occurred in Iceland.
A Merlin photographed in Iceland during FONT
tour in Sep/Oct 2013.
(photo by Alan Mitchnick)
WADERS (or SHOREBIRDS)
34. Eurasian Oystercatcher (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
Since around 1920, when the climate of Iceland began a warming trend, that has continued, the number of Eurasian Oystercatchers in Iceland has greatly increased. It is now a common breeding bird in southern and western Iceland. A number of birds, particularly in that part of the country, have become resident, remaining in Iceland all year. Those that migrate from Iceland winter in great Britain. Birds in northern and eastern Iceland are generally migratory.
Above & below: Eurasian Oystercatchers, an adult
and one very young,
photographed during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2012
(photos by Gabriel Hauser)
35. European Golden Plover (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
The European Golden Plover is a common breeding bird in Iceland, especially on moors, highland heaths, and stony hills where there is some vegetation.
This species, that nests in Iceland, is migratory, wintering in the British Isles or mainland western Europe. It departs from Iceland in October, although occasionally some are seen in Iceland during the winter.
More than any other Icelandic bird, the European Golden Plover is regarded as a harbinger of spring, with its arrival being a symbolic marking of the beginning of that season. The characteristic plaintive song of the plover captures the hearts of the people in the Icelandic countryside.
The fluting call that is heard in April, as the days are lengthening, is an indicator that soon flowers will be blooming again. And so, the European Golden Plover has become an integral part of the Icelandic folklore, and has inspired poets for centuries.
A typical poem begins:
"The plover has come, bid farewell to the snow!
Its song will dismiss all boredom and gloom.
It tells me the whimbrel is soon to follow,
the sun will start shine, and the flowers will bloom."
The European Golden Plover is a completely protected bird in Iceland.
A European Golden Plover photographed during the
FONT Iceland Tour in June 2009
(photo by Gerin Hood)
36. Common Ringed Plover (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
A Common Ringed Plover photographed during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2012
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
37. "Eurasian" Whimbrel (*) May Jun
The Whimbrel, common in the Icelandic lowlands in the summer, is one of the most familiar birds to people in the country. It is not so much its plumage that attracts their attention, although its long curved bill is certainly noticeable. Rather, it is the bird's distinct and easily recognizable call, a melodious fluting trill, that people know as a characteristic sound of summer.
Whimbrels in Iceland are migratory. They arrive in early May. After nesting, there are signs as early as mid-July that birds are readying themselves to depart. They begin to fly about restlessly in small flocks. These flocks, through the summer, become larger, and the birds often fly in formation. Then, during nights in August, especially around midnight, a distinctive departure call can be heard from flocks of Whimbrels on the wing as they leave Iceland, embarking on a long journey over the open sea. A few birds linger into September. But by the end of that month, all have departed for wintering grounds, chiefly in western Africa.
When on their nesting territories, Whimbrels defend them tenaciously. If a predatory bird enters the area, a flock of Whimbrels will try to drive away the uninvited guest. Ravens, White-tailed Eagles, Gyrfalcons, Merlins, Short-eared Owls, Great Black-backed Gulls and Parasitic Jaegers can expect such a hostile reception.
A "Eurasian" Whimbrel
photographed during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2015
(photo by Marie Gardner)
38. Black-tailed Godwit (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
At the beginning of the 20th Century, the Black-tailed Godwit bred in Iceland only in the southern lowlands, and it rarely occurred elsewhere in the country. Now, it breeds throughout Iceland, with as many as 10,000 pairs, which is almost certainly a result of a warmer climate.
It is rather interesting that the Black-tailed Godwit breeds in Iceland at all, as it is generally a more southerly species, not breeding even in Britain or Scandinavia. Iceland is the northernmost nesting location for the species.
The Black-tailed Godwits in Iceland are a unique subspecies, Limosa limosa islandica. Its distinguishing features are a shorter bill and a stronger red coloration than that of the subspecies of mainland Europe.
In September, the bird departs Iceland for its winter home along the coasts of western Europe, as far south as Portugal. Most Icelandic birds winter in Ireland. The birds return to Iceland in late April.
A Black-tailed Godwit photographed during the FONT
Iceland Tour in June 2012
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
39. Common Redshank (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
The Common Redshank is widespread in Iceland. Its choice habitats are shallow ponds, and lakeside and bogland mud-banks, particularly in the lowlands.
The majority of the 50,000-plus Redshanks that nest in Iceland are migratory. Those that migrate winter in the British Isles. Several hundred Redshanks winter along the coast of southwestern Iceland.
A Common Redshank photographed during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2012
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
40. Dunlin (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
41. Purple Sandpiper (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
The Purple Sandpiper is a common breeding bird in the highlands of Iceland, with from 20,000 to 30,000 pairs.
The breeding season is in late May and early June. There are usually 4 eggs in the simple nest. The young leave the nest soon after they are hatched, and the male parent takes care of them. The young become fully fledged at 3 weeks of age. At the end of July or the beginning of August, the adult male and the young leave the nesting area for the coast, where the female adults already gathered some time previously.
Outside the breeding season, Purple Sandpipers occur in groups along the seashore, haunting shingle-beaches, mudflats, and sands where they feed on various small animals such as snails, mussels, and acorn barnacles. During the summer, in the mountains, they had fed on various insects, flies, midges, and their larvae.
During the winter, the Purple Sandpiper is the most common shorebird in Iceland, and it is the only shorebird, that time of year, that is regularly observed in northern and eastern Iceland.
Some of the Icelandic breeding population winters in the British Isles. Others seemingly spend the winter in Iceland.
Some Purple Sandpipers that breed in areas in the Arctic, north of Iceland, pass through the country in the spring and autumn, while some of those birds apparently stay in Iceland through the winter.
In the circumpolar Arctic region, Purple Sandpipers breed in the Atlantic part of the Arctic Ocean area, on Greenland and other islands, and also in northern Eurasia from Scandinavia east to Siberia.
42. Eurasian Woodcock
The Eurasian Woodcock is generally a rare bird in Iceland, said now to be a breeder. It occurs in ditches and by open small streams, often adjacent to shrubs. It also occurs in geothermal areas.
43. Common Snipe (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
In the summer, the Common Snipe is a common bird in the Icelandic lowlands. It is less common in the highlands. The favored habitats are bogs and fens.
Most Icelandic Snipe are migratory, arriving in Iceland in April and remaining in the country until late in the autumn. A few winter in southern and southwestern Iceland, often staying close to brooks and springs that remain unfrozen.
The migrants from Iceland spend the winter in Ireland.
A Common Snipe photographed during the FONT
Iceland Tour in June 2012.
At that time of year, and especially late in the day, Snipes are heard winnowing in the Icelandic sky
seemingly "everywhere" and continuously.
This one had just alit atop a utility pole after doing its aerial display.
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
44. Red-necked Phalarope (ph) (*) May Jun
The Red-necked Phalarope is an attractive species in its summer plumage. It is widespread and common during that season throughout the Icelandic countryside, occurring in wet areas especially in the lowlands, but also in the highlands. From 30,000 to 40,000 pairs nest in Iceland.
These birds are completely migratory. They have been thought to winter in the South Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Africa, but now Icelandic breeding birds are believed to winter on the Arabian Sea.
Red-necked Phalaropes spend only a short time in Iceland. They arrive along the coast in late April and early may, and enter their breeding territories in mid-May. In the mid and late summer, they go back to the coast, and then depart from Iceland in August or September.
When at their breeding sites, Red-necked Phalaropes are tame, often allowing an observer to approach closely.
A Red-necked Phalarope in a pool in a small town
during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2012
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
45. Red (or Grey) Phalarope (ICr) (*) Jun
The Red Phalarope is an Arctic bird. It breeds so dispersively in Iceland that its exact number is not known. But there are probably not more than a hundred birds in total throughout the country. It breeds mostly in coastal areas and on small islands. As a bird uncommonly seen, the nests of the species in Iceland are hard to find.
In recent years, known nesting sites in Iceland have been abandoned, possibly because of a warmer climate and human interference.
The Red Phalarope (or Grey Phalarope, as it is called elsewhere in Europe) is migratory. It arrives in Iceland rather late (the latest arrival of all the Icelandic breeders), not before May 20. Nesting begins in early June, and by the end of July all have generally left their breeding grounds, going to coastal waters where they remain until September.
Red Phalaropes of Iceland are believed to spend the Northern winter (or Southern summer) on the far-southern Atlantic Ocean.
SKUAS, GULLS, TERN
46. Parasitic Jaeger (or Arctic Skua) (ph) (*) May Jun
The Parasitic Jaeger (or Arctic Skua, as it is called in Europe) is common throughout Iceland in the summer, especially in the lowlands and valleys. It nests on moors, bogs, and, in southern Iceland, on sands. It generally does not occur at elevations higher than 2,000 feet above sea level.
Icelandic Parasitic Jaegers are completely migratory. They arrive from mid-April to mid-May, usually before the Arctic Tern. It leaves the country at about the same time as the Arctic Tern, in late August, although a few birds linger into the first week of September.
Outside the breeding season, the Parasitic Jaeger is an oceanic bird. The population from Iceland is believed to winter in the southern part of the Atlantic.
Parasitic Jaegers occur in two plumages which bear no relation to either sex or age: the dark form (uniformly blackish-brown) and the light (with white underparts). Sometimes birds of the two forms are at the same nest. It is estimated that about 30 per cent of the Icelandic Parasitic Jaegers are of the dark form.
A method used by Parasitic Jaegers to obtain food is to rob other birds of theirs by chasing them until they drop their catch from their bills. In Iceland, often Arctic Terns, Kittiwakes, Puffins, and Fulmars are subjected to that harassment. Other ways that Parasitic Jaegers procure food are to steal eggs, kill smaller birds, and feed on carrion and waste. Once in a while, Parasitic Jaegers are seen feeding on crowberries and bilberries.
A dark morph of the Parasitic Jaeger,
or as it is known in Europe, the Arctic Skua,
during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2015
(photo by Marie Gardner)
47. Great Skua (ph) (*) May
Stercorarius (formerly Catharacta) skua
About half of the Great Skuas in the world breed in Iceland. Other breeding places for the species include the Shetland, the Orkneys, and the Faroes.
There are an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 breeding pairs of Great Skuas in Iceland. Apart from a few scattered nesting sites elsewhere, its distribution in Iceland is on the great sands along the southern coast. The nests are usually not close to each other as the breeding territories of the pairs are large.
The Great Skua is a large bird that is fierce and aggressive at its nesting site. It winters at sea.
Fishing activity has been said to have influenced the Icelandic population of Great Skuas. It increased until about 1930, and then there was a marked decline until the 1960s, when the population stabilized.
A Great Skua bathing in a roadside pool, not far
from the sea,
during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2012
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
48. Black-headed Gull (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
Chroicocephalus (formerly Larus) ridibundus
The Black-headed Gull has had a marked increase and spread in northwest Europe since the early 19th Century. It colonized in a number of countries since 1800, and in Iceland actually after 1900, first occurring there in 1911. It did not increase in numbers in Iceland until after 1930, concurrently with an increase in the population in the Faeroe Islands.
Above and below: Black-headed Gulls
Above: non-breeding plumage,
Below: in breeding plumage
(both photos by Armas Hill)
49. Common Gull (or Mew Gull) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
The Common Gull probably bred for the first time in Iceland around 1936.
50. Glaucous Gull (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
The most Glaucous Gulls in Europe are in Iceland, where the population has been stable after a marked decline in the early 20th Century.
51. "European" Herring Gull (*) May Jun Sep Oct
52. Lesser Black-backed Gull (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
The Lesser Black-backed Gull first bred in Iceland in the 1920s. It subsequently spread, mostly north and west, and increased to about 10,000 pairs in 1970.
Since the early 1900s, the Lesser Black-backed Gull has had a remarkable population increase and range expansion in northwest Europe, not just in Iceland, but also in Britain and Ireland, with more than ever also appearing in Greenland, Canada, and the United States.
In Greenland, breeding Lesser Black-backed Gulls were confirmed, for the first time, in 1990. Now, it breeds abundantly for the first time in southwestern Greenland.
The total number of Lesser Black-backed Gull pairs in south Greenland in 2003 was about 600. But the area has not been surveyed systematically, and so there may be more. Elsewhere, near Nunk, there have been at least an additional 100 pairs. So, a conservative estimate is at least 700 pairs.
In Iceland, Lesser Black-backed Gulls are often found nesting at places not favored by other gull species. Such places are barren, lava fields.
An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull in breeding plumage
photographed during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2015
(photo by Marie Gardner)
53. Great Black-backed Gull (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
54. Black-legged Kittiwake (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
There is a large population of Black-legged Kittiwakes in Iceland, where there was a steady increase during the 20th Century.
Kittiwakes, of course, are gulls. But some of their features differ from those of other gulls. Among such features, the Black-legged Kittiwake (1 of the world's 2 species of kittiwakes) has smaller legs than other gulls, and it has only 3 toes rather than 4 as other gulls do.
The Black-legged Kittiwake is more oceanic than other gulls. In the winter, outside the breeding season, it travels great distances out to sea.
The Black-legged Kittiwake and the Northern Fulmar are two of the most common pelagic birds of the North Atlantic Ocean. Both species often fly about fishing vessels.
Some Black-legged Kittiwakes winter along the Icelandic coast, but most go out to sea, with the majority departing in September.
During the summer, the Black-legged Kittiwake is one of the most numerous seabirds around the coast of Iceland, with well over half a million pairs. As noted above, the Icelandic population has risen in recent decades.
The main breeding sites of Icelandic Kittiwakes are on promontories or offshore oceanic islands. The species is very gregarious, often nesting in large crowded colonies on cliffs. About three-fourths of the Icelandic population have been in the 12 largest colonies. At many places, they nest only with their own kind, especially on lower cliffs, and on islands in Breidafjordur Bay.
Black-legged Kittiwakes banded in Iceland have been found in Greenland, mostly immature birds, and in Newfoundland, and in Europe south to Gibraltar.
A Black-legged Kittiwake on its cliffside nesting site,
photographed during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2012
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
55. Arctic Tern (ph) (*) May
The bulk of the northwestern European population of Arctic Terns breed in Iceland, with over 100,000 pairs, the highest population of the species in Europe. Overall, in Iceland, there seems to have been no recent population change.
The species nests circumpolarly, with many in the region of the Arctic Circle, hence the bird's name. It is one of the greatest travelers on Earth. The distance that it covers on an annual basis is greater than that of any bird.
In the autumn, the Arctic Terns that nest in Iceland, and those that do so elsewhere in the North Atlantic, travel south along the west coasts of Europe and Africa until they reach the Antarctic Ocean, Most that nest in northeastern North America do the same - that is, they first cross the Atlantic to Europe before heading south. Those that nest in Iceland start their exodus to the south in mid-July. Most leave in August. the last go in September.
The migration pattern of the Arctic Tern is said to follow ocean currents rich in food supplies during their long journey.
Banding has given some insight into the migration of the Arctic Tern. A young bird that was banded in Greenland, during June, was subsequently found the following October along the east coast of South Africa, after having migrated over 18,000 kilometers.
Barring some misfortune, Arctic Terns can live a long life. For example, a bird that was banded as a chick by Lake Myvatn in Iceland, was found 21 years later in Nigeria.
A particular aspect of the Arctic Tern that's stated repeatedly, but is always fascinating, is that they spend so much of their lives in two hemispheres in continuous days with little or no darkness.
An Arctic Tern photographed during the FONT Iceland
Tour in June 2012
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
Above: A breeding colony of Arctic Terns resting on a road, during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2002.
Below: One of the our June 2009 Iceland tour participants on the run after getting just a little too close
to an Arctic Tern nesting colony.
56. Black Guillemot (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
The Black Guillemot is the least common of the North Atlantic auks. The largest numbers in the region occur in Iceland, particularly in the border of the low arctic and boreal marine zones.
Black Guillemots never nest in large colonies, as do Puffins and other alcids in Iceland. Often they occur in groupings of a few pairs among boulders or along stone walls. At times, a pair will breed alone.
Black Guillemots usually lay 2 eggs, rarely 1. There is hardly a nest to speak of, with eggs sometimes resting on bar rock or gravel, but more often very well concealed in holes and crevices.
Black Guillemots in Iceland were, for a long time, considered residents, but recently some that have been ringed (or banded) in Iceland have been recovered abroad, and now indications are that about one-fourth of young Icelandic Black Guillemots visit Greenland outside the breeding season, that is during the winter.
It is also believed that some Black Guillemots from the High Arctic winter in Iceland. Those birds are of the subspecies Cepphus grylle mandtii, the "Mandt's Black Guillemot".
As nesting sites are so widely distributed all around the Icelandic coastline, and on many islands, it is difficult to know with reasonable accuracy the exact number of Black Guillemots that breed in Iceland. The figure has been estimated as 20,000 pairs or less.
Black Guillemots photographed during FONT Iceland Tours.
Above: as the bird looks during our tours in May and June.
Below: as the bird looks during our tours in September and October.
(top photo by Gabriel Hauser, bottom photo by Alan Michnick)
57. Common Murre (or Guillemot) (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
The bulk of the Common Murre, or Guillemot, population in the North Atlantic breed in Iceland, about 40 percent.
Both the Common Murre and the following species, the Thick-billed Murre, nest on steep towering cliffs.
The Thick-billed Murre is more of an Arctic species, and thus it occurs more as a breeder in northern Iceland. The Common Murre is proportionately more numerous on the southern cliffs of Iceland.
However, about three-fourths of the Common Murres breeding in Iceland are on the 3 largest bird-cliffs of the western fjords of northwestern Iceland: Helavikurbjarg, Latrabjarg, and Hornbjarg, the same places where collectively about 90 per cent of the Icelandic Thick-billed Murres breed.
In Iceland, there are a million or more nesting pairs of Common Murres. One of our sources indicates that there are more Thick-billed Murres in Iceland than Common Murres. Another source says there are less.
Little is known as to where Icelandic birds of both murre species winter. Some Common Murres, outside the breeding season, remain close to the Icelandic coast, but most are migratory. When at sea, the Thick-billed Murre is said to be more pelagic than the Common Murre.
In the murre colonies, Thick-billed Murres tend to nest on ledges that are more narrow than those used by the Common Murre. The Thick-billed Murres are sometimes in isolated pairs. Common Murres are often in larger groups. The murre colonies are abandoned in late July.
The bridled form of the Common Murre
during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2012
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
58. Thick-billed Murre (or Brunnich's Guillemot) (ph) (*) Jun
The largest numbers of Thick-billed Murres, or Brunnich's Guillemots, in the North Atlantic are in northwestern and northern Iceland (notably, as noted above, at Helavikurbjarg, Latrabjarg, and Hornbjarg), and in parts of Spitsbergen and Bear Island. There was a decline in the population in Iceland (at Hornbjarg, Latrabjarg, and Grimsey) between the 1950s and the 1980s.
59. Razorbill (ph) (*) Jun Oct
Razorbills are very sociable birds, often standing upright or lying on their bellies on cliff-ledges among murres and puffins.
The Razorbill population in Iceland has been estimated at 380,000 breeding pairs. The largest known Razorbill colony in the world is in northwestern Iceland, at Storurd at Latrabjarg. About 60 percent of the Icelandic population breed there.
The bulk of the population of the Razorbill in the North Atlantic breed in Iceland, about 70 percent. About 20 per cent breed in the British Isles.
Razorbills nesting in Iceland are believed to be largely migratory.
A Razorbill at a nesting colony of a large seaside
during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2012
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
60. Atlantic Puffin (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
The bulk of the Atlantic Puffin population, up to 10 million pairs, nest in Iceland, with most concentrated in the Westmann Islands and nearby along the south Icelandic coast, and in the area of the Breidhafjordhur Bay in western Iceland.
Other substantial, but considerably smaller, populations breed in Europe in the Faroe Islands and Scotland, with each having over half a million pairs. In North America, the Atlantic Puffin breeds in eastern Canada, notably Newfoundland, and south, in small numbers to Maine in the US.
Atlantic Puffins during the FONT Iceland Tour in
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
A decline of the Atlantic Puffin population occurred during the 20th Century in Iceland and
elsewhere in the range of the species. Such a decline has been due in part to
human persecution along with other factors such as pollution and changes in the
food supply, resulting it has been said in part from oceanographic changes.
The breeding sites of the Atlantic Puffin are on offshore islands, oceanic cliffs, and steep mountainsides near the sea. Some large puffin colonies are widespread on low grassy islands, but the largest colonies are on high sea-cliffs of uninhabited islands. Atlantic Puffins nest in burrows usually dug by the birds themselves, using their beaks to dig and their webbed feet to kick out the dirt. Their burrows, up to 2 feet in length, are in the grass-covered ledges of the cliff-faces or in the slopes of the cliff-tops. In the burrows, from each pair of Atlantic Puffins, there is only one egg.
In Iceland, the same individual Puffin has been found nesting in the same hole for 30 years, meaning that the bird was at least 35 years of age, as Puffins begin to breed when they become 5 years old.
Atlantic Puffins usually keep the same mate for life. However, if no offspring are produced for several years, they will "divorce" and find a new mate, possibly an older bird whose previous partner had died.
Puffins "talk" in their underground burrows The sound that comes from their soft earthen rooms is a soft growling-moaning. If a person were to sit quietly on the grass in a puffin colony, he or she can hear the birds "talking" underground in their nests.
It is fascinating how many fish an Atlantic Puffin can hold in its bill. And also impressive is how it can add to its collection without losing one. The answer as to why the Puffin can do these things so well lies in the small spines on their tongues and the roofs of their mouths, thus enabling them to spear and hold the little fish as they do.
A characteristic of the Atlantic Puffin is that it likes to strut about for a while with its bill filled with fish before returning to its burrow and feeding its young.
The Atlantic Puffins that nest in Iceland are migratory. They start to arrive in April. Their main breeding season begins around the 20th of May.
During the first half of August, parents gradually stop feeding the young. Thus, at that time, the parents abandon the burrows. In late August, the exodus of young Puffins increases. By mid-September, all of the Atlantic Puffins of Iceland have left their breeding grounds and gone to sea.
An Atlantic Puffin in flight photographed during a
FONT Iceland Tour
THE FOLLOWING ARMAS HILL WROTE, AS PART OF A NARRATIVE, AFTER THE JUNE 2011 FONT TOUR IN ICELAND, RELATING MOSTLY TO THE DECLINE OF THE ATLANTIC PUFFIN:
Most of the many Atlantic Puffins in Iceland
are not along the northern coast of the country, but rather, they are locally
In the southernmost town on mainland Iceland, late in the evening, above the Hotel Lundi in the heart of the town, I noticed a Puffin flying out from the cliff. "Lundi" is the Icelandic word for "Puffin".
I watched the small bird fly with its little wings pitter-pattering rapidly. It headed toward a distant swarm of birds that were all flying about in the twilit sky by another cliff just above the ocean. I went closer.
That swarm, that at a distance appeared superficially as an evening mass of insects or bats was of course, as I just noted, and knew at the time, of birds. And all of them were Puffins with their little wings fluttering rapidly. There were at least a thousand in the sky. And many more than that were out on the water. Others were standing out by their burrows on the cliff-tops. It was going on midnight, but as it was mid-June, the lightness enabled me to enjoy the spectacle.
The place in Iceland with the most Puffins was not far away: an offshore group of 14 islands known as Vestmannaeyjar, or the Westmann Islands.
We went there the next morning on the first ferry. What was more than a 3-hour (and sometimes rough) ferry-ride to the islands is now less than half an hour, from a new port.
From the ferry on the way to Heimaey, the only one of the Westmann Islands that is inhabited by people, about 4,000 of them, a flock of Manx Shearwaters was seen. In Iceland, that species only nests in Vestmannaeyjar.
Also seen from the ferry were Northern Gannets, Northern Fulmars, Black-legged Kittiwakes, and yes, Puffins.
Whereas there are people on only 1 of the 14 islands, there are birds inhabiting all of them, on sheer rocky cliffs and otherwise. When we took a boat-ride throughout the islands, we saw many.
There were 5 species of alcids. In addition to the Atlantic Puffin, there were Razorbills, two kinds of Murres (mostly Common, also some Thick-billed), and the Black Guillemot. We saw all of these on and by those shear rocky cliffs along with the many Kittiwakes and Gulls and Gannets.
On Heimaey Island, where we spent most of a day, and a night, there's a place above a high seacliff that's said to be a place for Puffins. At that spot, there is a wooden hide, or blind, with openable windows, at a "Puffin spot". When we first went there, during the day, there were Puffins in the area, but they were ALL below, well below us, on the water of the sea. There were none on the nearby grassy slopes above the cliffs.
When we returned later in the day, it was much the same.
But I remembered the previous evening's activity back by the mainland coastal cliffs, so I returned to the hide at about 10pm. And, then, at that time, the Puffins were coming in too!
So, I went back to the hotel to get the others, and soon, when we were inside the hide, there were Puffins outside, sometimes nearly within reach! There were well more than a thousand, for about 2 hours, before they started to go, individually or in small groups, back down to the ocean below.
What we learned, sadly, when we were in Iceland, and particularly when we were in the Westmanns, is that the Atlantic Puffin has not been doing well, for a few years now. It is becoming, and I must say sadly again, a species in peril.
Yes, the same bird that in Iceland is depicted so many places, as on postcards everywhere, on shirts and other garments, and on signs and in ads, is now in trouble. The bird, clown-like in appearance, called the Puffin, or Lundi, has been as common in Iceland as a caricature can be.
Referring to the "real thing", Iceland has had the largest number of Atlantic Puffins anywhere, with over half of the total global population of the species residing there in the summer.
An estimated 3 million pairs of Atlantic Puffins have been breeding in Iceland each year - that is about 6 million birds. On average, 70 per cent of the total Icelandic population of Atlantic Puffins are breeders, so the total number in Iceland each summer has been from 8 to 10 million birds.
And about half of the Atlantic Puffins in Iceland have been in the Westmann Islands. As noted earlier, it has been the place in Iceland with the most - but not just the most in Iceland.
The Westmann Islands has been the place with the most Atlantic Puffins on Earth, with some 700,000 nesting pairs - that is 1,400,000 birds, with each pair normally raising but one young bird per year.
So, it has been, on average, that about 20 per cent of the global population of Atlantic Puffins (1 out of 5) has nested on the Westmann Islands.
And the birds even had a new island there on which to nest. It was noted that there are 14 islands in the Westmann group. There were 13. That was until 1963 when a new island was created, as a volcano erupted in the ocean. On that island, called Surtsey, afterwards, Atlantic Puffins began making their homes.
But during more recent years, the Atlantic Puffin population has fallen so drastically that the species is being put on the Birdlife International "watch list".
Overall, during the last decade, there has been a 20 per cent drop in the species' population. And during the most recent years, the situation has worsened yet.
In 2007, Maria Frostic, an employee of NASA in the US, took a leave in July and August, and went to the Westmann Islands, intending to make a documentary film about medieval sagas. Instead, learning immediately upon her arrival how poorly the Puffins were doing during that nesting season, she did instead a film entitled "Plight of the Puffins" that aired the following year on television on PBS.
In 2009, it was in the news that on the Westmann Islands "very few Puffin chicks hatched and survived the summer".
When we were in the Westmanns in June 2011, we were told that in the summer of 2010, the Puffins on the islands again did not successfully raise their young. And we were also told that the current 2011 season did not yet seem to be any better.
A reason said for this, and also purported in that 2007 documentary film, is the depletion of the Puffin's food-source, a fish called the Sand-eel. From whatever cause, and maybe it's been said due to climatic change, that fish is now scarce where it used to be abundant. And where it is now scarce is where the Puffins are during their nesting season.
An Atlantic Puffin with Sand-eels
On the Westmann Islands during August, for years, there has been a
tradition. Puffins are weak flyers, even at best. They do best when they
take off into the air from the top of a cliff. Sometimes, young Puffins, after leaving their burrows, descend not to the water as they should, but
instead into the town on Heimaey.
They land on a moist road or street as it appears to be water. In the evenings, when that happens, the children in the town go about and gather up the forlorn Puffins, putting them in boxes to release them from cliff-tops in the morning. The child, who doing so, saves the most becomes the "Puffin Fledgling King" for a year. We were told that in 2010 there were no young Puffins for the children to rescue.
After my return home from Iceland, I looked a bit more into the situation regarding the Atlantic Puffins in Iceland. I found it written that the decline of the species has been due in part to factors such as "human persecution", pollution, and the reason that I had already been told, "a shortage in the food supply resulting from oceanographic changes". Due to the last of these, it's written that there has been ""poor breeding success" and "a high mortality rate of young birds".
I found it said that the fish consumed by Atlantic Puffins include, as noted already, Sand-eel, Ammodytes sp., which is the majority of the diet of the chicks, and some forage species including juvenile pelagic fishes such as Herring, Clupea hareegus, and juvenile and adult Capelin, Maliotus villosus.
An Atlantic Puffin with Capelin
I also found in a non-nature publication that in 2010, at least 38
Icelandic fishing vessels each caught fish worth more than 1 billion Icelandic
Kroner (or 8.6 million US dollars), which was a new record. As a comparison, 28
vessels reached that goal the previous year, in 2009.
Relating to the Capelin, the small cold-water fish eaten by Puffins: After some years with meager catches, it was said that 390,000 tons would be fished in 2011, providing a needed boost to the economy and a good increase in exports. A starting quota of 200,000 tons was issued when the size of the stock was first estimated. A further quota of 125,000 tons was later added. The quota was decided on the basis of leaving 400,000 tons of spawning Capelin in the waters to ensure sustainable stock.
A bit about Capelin biology: They come to the sandy shores of southern Iceland to spawn between the ages of two and six. After spawning, most die.
During the 3 years, 2008-2010, Capelin were scarce in Icelandic waters, with about 100,000 tons caught each year.
Hopefully, an increase in one of the prey of the Puffin will help the bird. And if that were to happen with the Sand-eel, the Puffin would have better times ahead. Optimism certainly is not in order yet. Only time will tell.
Atlantic Puffins photographed by their burrows
during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2009
(photo by Gerin Hood)
61. Common Pigeon (or Feral Pigeon) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
62. Short-eared Owl (ph) (*) Jun
The Short-eared Owl is the only owl known to breed in Iceland on a regular basis, with maybe 100 to 200 pairs doing so annually.
One of our sources says that the main breeding area of the species in Iceland is in the southern part of the island, but that it does nest dispersively elsewhere as well. Another source says that the bird is a sparse breeder in all of Iceland, but most common in the north. At any rate, throughout the country there are not many nests.
The Short-eared Owl was first known to nest in Iceland in 1912. Prior to that it has been considered a vagrant in the country.
Nests are in boggy areas, often on drier ground near lakes or fens, usually well hidden in birch thickets or heather. As the young owlets grow, the female parent remains at the nest feeding them, as the male hunts for prey. The parents continue to feed the young birds in the brush until they can fend for themselves.
Icelandic Short-eared Owls are mainly migratory, wintering in western Europe. Those in Iceland in the winter are found in "woodlands" and parks where Wood Mice may be hunted.
The main staple of Short-eared Owls in Iceland are probably small and young birds.
63. Northern Raven (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
Corvus corvax varius (subspecies on Iceland and the Faeroe Islands)
The Northern Raven is the largest of the world's passerine birds. It is a bird well known to most people in Iceland, not only in the countryside, but also in folklore.
In many northern cultures, including the Icelandic, the Northern Raven has had a special place in mythology. Few birds have figured in as many folktales as the Raven in northerly lands as far apart as Iceland and Alaska, and through the ages in societies from the Vikings of Europe to the Native Americans of the tundra. Certain attributes of the bird are said to cause this - including their behavior and intelligence.
Here's an example of an Icelandic folktale relating to the Raven:
A man, who was riding on his way home from Budir to Stadarstadur on the Sbaefellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland, found a lumpsucker fish, which he put into his bag.
When he passed the fishing-station, there were 2 Ravens sitting on one of the huts, and one of them seemed to ask him for a bite to eat. The man replied that he had nothing, as he had forgotten about the fish he had found.
The Raven reminded him that he had something in his bag. The man duly found the fish, and gave a piece of it to the Ravens.
He then asked the birds if the men from his farm would have a good catch that day, and the Ravens replied that they would catch 2 very large halibuts.
The man rode on home and told his family the whole story, and they only laughed at him for his stupidity.
The man remained undaunted and left for the fishing-station in the evening with 2 pack horse to fetch the catch - and learned that his men had indeed caught 2 very large halibuts that day!
Thus the existence of the folk tradition which says that God rewards those who are kind to the Raven.
There are from 2,000 to 3,000 breeding pairs of Northern Ravens in Iceland.
The Northern Raven is the only corvid that commonly occurs in Iceland, where it resides year-round.
The Northern Raven may sometimes seem to be heavy, or even clumsy in the air, but in fact it is a very agile flyer, especially when it is in a "good mood", when it will sometimes give an extraordinary display of aerobatics, twisting and rolling in seemingly all directions.
The caw of the Northern Raven is said not to be very attractive. But the voice of the bird is actually quite variable, and the Raven can even, rather like a parrot, give a fairly good imitation of human speech.
This was the only Raven during our June 2015 Iceland Tour
that stayed still to have its picture taken.
It's a wooden carving inside a historic house.
Ravens are known for being "smart"
and in that regard, all of our Ravens outside
quickly flew to be just a little too far away.
(photo by Marie Gardner, who wanted to photograph a Raven
any way she could)
64. "Icelandic" Eurasian Wren (*)
Jun Sep Oct
Troglodytes troglodytes icelandicus
The "Icelandic" Eurasian Wren was, for a long time, said to be the smallest of Icelandic birds, but now the Goldcrest, which is smaller, occurs in the country as a rare breeder.
The subspecies of the Eurasian Wren in Iceland is unique to the island. It is slightly larger, darker, and more streaked than subspecies that occur in other places.
Due to its size, color, and quick behavior, the Wren in Icelandic folk tradition has been referred to as "the mouse's brother".
65. Northern Wheatear (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
During the summer, the Northern Wheatear is distributed over a range in Europe stretching from the Mediterranean to Greenland. It is rather astonishing how this small bird, originally a southern species, has adapted to natural conditions in the far north.
The Northern Wheatear feeds on insects, and they need a good supply of them when nesting and raising young.
In the autumn, the Northern Wheatears from Greenland and Iceland have a long flight south to their wintering areas in Africa. Northern Wheatears that breed in Greenland are spring and autumn visitors in Iceland. Most Wheatears depart Iceland in late September. Sometimes, the species is seen there in October.
Northern Wheatears that nest in Iceland, Greenland, northeastern Canada, and the Faroe Islands are classified as the subspecies Oenanthe oenanthe leucorrha. Due to their long annual flights, these birds have developed longer wings than the Wheatears in mainland Europe.
An adult male Northern Wheatear
photographed during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2015
(photo by Marie Gardner)
66. Redwing (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
The Redwing is a common breeding bird throughout Iceland. Most Icelanders know the bird by both its appearance and its song. It sings both during the day and at night.
Most of the Redwings that breed in Iceland are migratory, when their main wintering grounds being in Scotland, Ireland, western France, and south into the Pyrenees.
They return from there to the coast of southern Iceland in early April, continuing into the central and northern parts of the country a few weeks later.
In September and October most Redwings leave Iceland, often stopping first, for a while, in gardens to feed on the red rowanberries, that they find delicious, in preparation for their upcoming flight over the ocean. Some of those Redwings, however, seem unable to pull themselves away from the rowanberries, and thus spend the winter in Iceland.
The Redwing is one of the few nesting birds in Iceland to have two broods in the summer - and sometimes three.
A Redwing photographed during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2012
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
67. Common Starling (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
The Common Starling is a recent settler in Iceland. It first bred in Hofn in Hornafjordur in southeast Iceland in 1941, and it has bred there since.
Breeding began in Reykjavik in 1960, and it is now estimated that about 3,000 pairs are resident in the city and its suburbs. The species has now spread elsewhere in the country. During the FONT June 2011 Iceland tour, Starlings were seen along the northern Icelandic coast in Blonduos.
68. House Sparrow (*) May
69. Common Redpoll (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
Depending upon the year and the season, the population of Common Redpolls in Iceland can fluctuate from 2,000 to 20,000 pairs. Factors causing this variation can be climatic conditions and the abundance of birch seeds.
In Iceland, the resident Common Redpolls, that is the "Icelandic Redpolls" of the subspecies Carduelis flammea islandica, have spread with "forestation". In addition to birch trees, the birds also have a preference for spruce trees for nesting, and rowanberry seeds as food. "Icelandic Redpolls" can be found nesting in gardens in towns and villages.
Common Redpolls also eat insects in the summer.
Throughout the year, Redpolls fly about in small flocks in Iceland.
Common Redpolls from Greenland, of the subspecies Carduelis flammea rostrata, pass through Iceland in the spring and autumn, and some of them stay on the island through the winter.
The Greenland birds are of the same subspecies as those that breed in northeast Canada. A portion of the birds that breed in Greenland winter in northwest Europe.
70. Meadow Pipit (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
The Meadow Pipit is the most common passerine bird in Iceland in the summer, with up to a million breeding pairs.
Icelandic birds are migratory, wintering from western France south to Morocco. Most leave Iceland in September. A few linger into October. Returning birds in the spring arrive in late April and early May.
A Meadow Pipit photographed during the FONT Iceland tour in June 2012
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
71. White Wagtail (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
The White Wagtail, probably more than any other bird in Iceland, occurs in places of human habitation. Most farms have one or two pairs as summer residents. The species is common in towns and villages throughout the country.
The White Wagtails of Iceland are migratory, leaving the country between late August and mid-September, for winter quarters mainly along the west coast of Africa.
Unusual, but the subspecies of the White Wagtail, Moticilla alba yarrellii, has occurred in Iceland.
A White Wagtail photographed during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2012
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
72. Snow Bunting (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
Calcarius (formerly Plectrophenax) nivalis
The Snow Bunting is a bird if the Arctic, breeding in all the northernmost countries in the world. No passerine bird has been found nesting closer to the North Pole than the Snow Bunting.
In Iceland, there are some 50,000 or more breeding pairs of Snow Buntings. They are most common in the highlands. In the summer especially, the species is less common in the lowlands.
Late in the summer, Snow Buntings in the Icelandic highlands gather into flocks, and then move into the lowlands, as the bird's feeding habits change with the seasons. During the summer in the high country, Snow Buntings eat insects.
In the winter, Snow Buntings frequent the seashore, often near human habitation. It is a hardy bird that can tolerate cold weather, provided it has sufficient food.
Icelandic Snow Buntings have generally been considered residents, but some do migrate to more southerly countries. Birds from Iceland have been known to winter in Scotland.
Birds from Greenland, and other northerly places, are either winter visitors in Iceland, or migrants that stop-over on the island as they pass through in the spring and autumn.
A male Snow Bunting in breeding plumage
photographed during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2012
(photo by Gabriel Hauser)
Formerly an Icelandic Breeding Bird, now seemingly extinct as such in Iceland:
73. Water Rail
The Water Rail was a sparse breeder in Iceland in the expanses of Lyngbye's Sedge and other lowland marshes, mainly in the southern part of the country.
But following the effects of the draining of wetlands and predation by the introduced American Mink, the Water Rail is mostly likely extinct as an Icelandic breeder. No nest is known to have been found there since 1963.
A very few Water Rails are spotted in Iceland on occasion, generally in the fall and winter. They are most apt to be found in ditches, at springs, and in geothermal areas. They are thought to be vagrants from Europe. The bird is very shy, and is rarely seen in flight - although vagrants from mainland Europe would have to fly well to get to Iceland.
Water Rails were found in southern Iceland at Hveragerdi in January 2011, and in southeast Iceland on October 27, 2011.
Formerly an Icelandic Breeding Bird, now globally extinct:
74. Great Auk
The Great Auk was a large flightless seabird that became extinct in 1844.
Although they were flightless, Great Auks, as good swimmers, were strongly migratory, with some, probably from Newfoundland, occurring in the winter as far south along the Atlantic coast of North America as the Carolinas.
It can not be questioned that Great Auks bred on small islands, skerries, and rocks off the coast of Iceland.
Bones of 8 individuals, indicating breeding, were found at Kyrkjuvogy and Baejsker.
According to tradition, there were 4 small Icelandic islands where Great Auks either formerly bred, or habitually roosted.
All were called "Geirfuglasker" (or Gare Fowl Skerries - "Gare Fowl" was the Icelandic name for the Great Auk).
For two of those islands, the record was only by word of mouth and quite vague.
The two well-documented Icelandic offshore locations as breeding places for the Great Auk were:
1) Rocks in a cluster about 20 miles of the Reykianes Peninsula in southwest Iceland, among them Eldey Rock and Geirfuglasker.
This was the principal location for the Great Auk in Iceland.
Geirfuglasker, where most of the Great Auks bred, disappeared under the sea in 1830 during a volcanic cataclysm resulting from an earthquake. Birds moved to Eldey Rock when their ancestral home sank. It was there, on Eldey, where the last of the world's Great Auks were killed, a pair o June 3, 1844. Eldey, unfortunately, was more accessible to men than Geirfuglasku had been.
2) the Westmann Islands (Vestmannaeyjar), off south-central Iceland. Even though the Great Auk was documented as occurring there, any evidence of their breeding came through local tradition.
It is believed that a pair of Great Auks only laid one egg a year. Thus they reproduced rather slowly.
As men appeared in the areas where they bred, the population of the Great Auk rapidly dwindled.
In North America, the species became extinct between 1800 and 1825. It became extinct in the Faroe Islands by about 1800, in the Orkney Islands by 1811, in Greenland by 1815, and on the island of St. Kilda by 1821.
As the Icelandic population of the Great Auk shrank, birds were killed and skins sold to collectors and natural science museums, 27 Great Auks were killed in the area of Geirfuglasker in 1830-31. 10 were killed on nearby skerries from then until 1841,
During the 20th Century, in 1955, the Icelandic Museum of Natural history in Reykjavik, obtained a Great Auk skeleton - one of only 10 such skeletons in existence. The bones were collected in 1908 on Funk Island, where there once had been a large Great Auk colony.
Also at the Icelandic Museum of Natural History, there is a stuffed Great Auk. It was bought at an auction in London in 1971. It had been a skin that was in a collection in Denmark, obtained during a trip to Iceland in 1821.
The Great Auk was closely related to another alcid that is not flightless and is still with us today, the Razorbill.
With the scientific name "Pinguins" lasting forever, the Great Auk was a northern counterpart of the "penguin" of the Southern Hemisphere.
The Great Auk was not as much of an Arctic bird as some penguins are of the Antarctic. But the evolutionary histories of the Great Auk and the penguins appear to be rather similar.
Had the Great Auk continued to survive, it would have been interesting to compare the behavior of the species.
A sculpture of a Great Auk with tour participant Alan Mitchnick
during the FONT Iceland Tour in September 2013,
From where this statue is we could see the island offshore
where the last Great Auks lived in 1844.
The Great Auk in life was, of course, not a big as this statue.
The flightless birds were 27.5 inches from head to foot.
(photo by Armas Hill)
COMMON MIGRANTS IN ICELAND (Non-breeders unless
North in the spring, south in the late-summer or early-fall:
75. Greater White-fronted Goose (*)
The Greater White-fronted Goose is one of the three species of geese that stop in Iceland during their migrations in the spring and autumn.
The Greenland race of the White-fronted Goose travels between Greenland, where it breeds, and Scotland, where it winters. That population has been small, but increasing in recent years. It is now about 30,000 birds.
The call of the White-fronted Goose is higher pitched, and more musical than those of the other geese in Iceland.
The other two species that stop in Iceland during their migrations are noted below, the Barnacle Goose and the Brant Goose.
Unusual, but the "Eastern, or Siberian White-fronted Goose", Anser albifrons albifrons, has occurred in Iceland. One was in southeast Iceland at Hofn on April 6 & 12, 2015.
76. Barnacle Goose (ph) (*) Jun Sep Oct (rare in Iceland in June)
The Barnacle Goose is certainly one of the most beautiful of the world's geese, with its striking and contrasting color pattern.
Barnacle Geese travel across Iceland twice each year, going north in the spring and south in the fall. The pass mostly over the central highlands, often following the largest river, They usually stop in the spring at Hunafloi and Skagafjordur in northwest Iceland. In the autumn, they often sojourn in southern areas of the central highlands.
The Barnacle Goose is an Arctic breeder, doing so in crowded colonies on steep cliffs in northeastern Greenland.
Outside Greenland, Barnacle Geese breed on Svalbard and Noraya Zemiya, also there on cliffs.
Until recently, it was believed that a Barnacle Goose seen in Iceland during the mid-summer would be an immature bird that had failed to continue further north on its spring-time journey from the British Isles, where Barnacle Geese that pass through Iceland winter. But it now has become known that a few, actually a very few, Barnacle Geese breed on occasion on skerries (small islands) in Briedafjordur, in western Iceland.
In 1984, on one such skerry, there were 3 Barnacle Geese nests, with total of 5 eggs. Nowadays, from 5 to 10 breeding pairs of Barnacle Geese occur annually in Iceland.
And Barnacle Geese have also been found to nest elsewhere in Iceland - in a river canyon and by a glacial river in Skaftafellssysla.
The 35,000 or so Barnacle Geese traveling south from Greenland arrive in Iceland in the middle of September. They continue their journey south from Iceland in October.
The Barnacle Goose has a sharp call like a dog's bark.
77. Brant Goose (ph) (*) Sep Oct
Branta bernicla hrota
Unusual, but the "Black Brant", Branta bernicla nigricans, has occurred in Iceland.
WADERS (or SHOREBIRDS)
78. Sanderling (ph) (*) May Jun Sep
The Sanderling is one of 3 species of shorebirds that are regular passage migrants in Iceland. The other 2 species are the Red Knot and the Ruddy Turnstone. All 3 species breed in Greenland and on the northern Arctic islands of Canada, visiting Iceland in the spring and autumn when migrating from and to their wintering quarters in western Europe.
Fewer Sanderlings visit Iceland than Ruddy Turnstones.
79. Red Knot (ph) (*) Jun
Around 200,000 Red Knots visit Iceland every year, arriving from the British Isles in large flocks April and the first part of May. They remain in Iceland for about 3 weeks, mostly along the western and southwestern coasts, feeding on various mollusks, sand hoppers, and flies.
80. Ruddy Turnstone (ph) (*) May Jun Sep Oct
As noted above (in the above comments under "Sanderling"), the Ruddy Turnstone is 1 of the 3 species of shorebirds that are regular passage migrants in Iceland. The third, as noted is the Red Knot. A few of each occasionally winter in Iceland, especially the Ruddy Turnstone.
As noted above, the Ruddy Turnstone, or simply the Turnstone as it is called in Europe, breeds in Greenland and elsewhere in the High Arctic. Also, there are some populations of the Turnstone in Europe that breed south of the Arctic Circle, on the isles, skerries, and beaches of Scandinavia, but the species doe not nest in Iceland.
From the fall thru spring:
81. Iceland Gull (ph) (*)
May Jun Sep Oct
Iceland Gulls do not nest in Iceland. It is a winter visitor to the island, coming from breeding grounds in Greenland, Baffin Island, and other nearby islands.
The species is occasionally observed in Iceland in the summer.
82. Dovekie (or Little Auk) (*) Oct
The Dovekie is one of the smallest of seabirds, hence its other name, used more often in Europe, the Little Auk.
The Dovekie is an Arctic and an oceanic bird that is a common breeder north of Iceland, in the area between Greenland and Novaya Zemlya. Huge colonies exist in that area on Greenland, Jan Mayen, and Svalbard, and as far east as Franz Joseph Land.
In Iceland, the Dovekie formerly bred at various places in the northern part of the island. Iceland has been at the southern limit of the species' breeding range. Around 1900, several hundred pairs nested in far-northern Iceland, particularly on offshore islands: Grimsey, Langanes, and perhaps Kolbeinsey.
That Icelandic Dovekie nesting population declined greatly during the 20th Century, probably due to a warming climate. Recently, on Grimsey Island only a few nested until in 1983, just 2 breeding pairs were present there. Since then, the species may have disappeared from that island, and now it may no longer be an Icelandic breeding bird.
Where Dovekies do nest, they make virtually no nest - laying 1 egg on bare earth, usually in holes and crevices between boulders. At Dovekie breeding sites, the continuous twittering of the young can be heard from within the rocks.
Overall in their range, Dovekies winter in large numbers at the edge of polar drift ice. The species is observed fairly frequently in Iceland in the winter, especially following northerly winds, and often it is seen when drift ice approaches the island. Some may be swept inland by storms.
When Dovekies are seen in flight, it can be seen that as the wings are so small the bird flies with wing-beats that are very rapid
Dovekies, when they are at sea, feed on plankton and various kinds of pelagic crustaceans.
A thrush mostly in mainland Europe, the Fieldfare can be a relatively common autumn and winter visitor in Iceland. It has on occasion stayed in Iceland into the summer and has bred several times in the country since 1950, both in the north and the south.
A Fieldfare was at a garden in southern Iceland, in Selfoss, the week of April 12-18, 2015, along with 5 Common Blackbirds, 4 Common Chaffinches, and 1 European Robin.
84. Common Blackbird (*) Jun Sep
The first confirmed breeding in Iceland of the Common Blackbird was in Reykjavik in 1969. The species has bred regularly in Reykjavik since 1991. It has also bred elsewhere in southern Iceland.
As noted, with the previous species, 5 Common Blackbirds were at a garden in Selfoss, in southern Iceland, the week of April 12-18, 2015.
Usually from spring into
summer, sometimes later:
85. Great Shearwater (ph)
Both the Great Shearwater, and following species, the Sooty Shearwater, breed in the Southern Hemisphere. They migrate to the North Atlantic Ocean, and Icelandic waters, during the Southern Winter. Both species are regular visitors off the Iceland coast, more often seen south of the island, from May to October. As noted in the figures here, the Sooty Shearwater is by far the more common of the two species in Icelandic waters.
86. Sooty Shearwater (ph)
100 Sooty Shearwaters were seen at sea off southeast Iceland on October 6, 2011. 15 were on October 27, 2011.
SWALLOW & MARTIN
87. Barn Swallow (ph) (*) Jun
88. Northern House Martin (*) Jun
3) UNCOMMON TO RARE VISITORS TO ICELAND (Non-breeders unless noted otherwise)
These species are generally found in Iceland annually.
GEESE and DUCKS
89. Canada Goose
One Canada Goose was in southern Iceland at Sydri Syrlaekur/Floi on April 19, 2015.
90. Snow Goose (ph) (*) Sep
Chen (was Anser) caerulescens
91. American Wigeon (ph) (*) Oct
92. Common Pochard (ph)
The Common Pochard is observed annually in the summer at Lake Myvatn in northern Iceland, where the species first bred in 1954. It has been known to breed there several times since. Otherwise, the Common Pochard is seen mainly as a visitor in southern Iceland.
In northeast Iceland, a Common Pochard was at Skjalftavatn on April 19, 2015, and one was in southwest Iceland, at Sandgerdi, on May 15, 2015.
93. Common Goldeneye (ph) (*) Jun
In Iceland, the Common Goldeneye is mostly an annual, uncommon winter visitor. It is seen either on fresh water with Barrow's Goldeneyes, or at sea usually along the coast of southwestern Iceland. The Common Goldeneye has also been seen rarely in the summer at Lake Myvatn.
Two single Common Goldeneyes were at one location in northeast Iceland, and another in southeast Iceland, both on April 19, 2015.
3 Common Goldeneyes were at Akureyri in northern Iceland on April 2, 2015.
15 Common Goldeneyes were in southeast Iceland at Svinholar/Lon on March 31, 2015.
Common Goldeneyes that visit Iceland are probably from Scandinavia.
94. King Eider (ph) (*) Jun
The King Eider can be seen in Iceland throughout the year, bit it is most common in the late winter. King Eiders visit Iceland from Greenland and Svalbard. Drakes come to Iceland from eastern Greenland, one of the main breeding grounds of the species, as annual visitors to large Common Eider colonies. A particular place in Iceland where these drakes have come in such a way has been Vestfirdir, where male King Eiders have mated with Icelandic Common Eiders ducks.
At the Myrar Common Eider colony in Dyrafjordur, observers noted a female Common Eider accompanied, at the same time, by both a drake Common Eider and a brilliantly-plumaged male King Eider. Both followed her on walks. Both sat resolutely by the nest as she was incubating.
it is well known that King Eider drakes and Common Eider ducks interbreed, with the resulting hybrid having distinctive features of both species. Hybrids are seen in Iceland every year.
Female King Eiders have also been seen in Iceland on occasion, at various times of the year. During a FONT tour in northern Iceland, one year in early June a pair of King Eiders was seen along the coast. Two years later, apparently those same two birds were seen again at the same place, again in early June.
On August 5, 2011, at least 19 drake King Eiders were at Kaidalon/Isafjardardjup, in northwest Iceland.
An adult male King Eider (left) with Common Eiders (right)
during the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2015
(photo by Marie Gardner)
95. Grey Heron (ph) (*) Jun Sep Oct
The Grey Heron is more often a winter visitor in Iceland, but it can be found at other times of the year. Most of those that winter in Iceland are immature birds from Norway.
In Iceland, the Grey Heron can either be solitary or in small groups. The species can be seen all around Iceland at seashores, rivers, brooks, ponds, and lakes that remain unfrozen, more often in the southern and southwestern parts of the country.
96. Eurasian Coot (*) Jun
97. Grey (or Black-bellied) Plover (ph) (*) Jun Sep
98. Northern Lapwing (ph)
99. Ruff / Reeve (ph)
The Ruff (male) / Reeve (female) is a rare but annual visitor in Iceland, where it is most likely to be found in the spring. During that season, it occurs mainly in Iceland at inland locations. In the autumn, it occurs less frequently, and usually then along the coast.
100. Jack Snipe
The Jack Snipe is a smaller version of the Common Snipe. Due to its size, it has the nickname, "Half-Snipe".
The Jack Snipe is a rare winter visitor in Iceland, found at springs of constant temperature, geothermal areas, and other places where water does not freeze over.
A single Jack Snipe was by a warm brook near Selfoss, in southern Iceland, in mid-January 2015. Another lone Jack Snipe waqs in southeast Iceland, at Seljavellir/Nes on April 16, 2015.
Even though the Jack Snipe is seemingly an annual winter visitor in Iceland, it is hard to see as it sits very still, and then crouches low, before exploding into the air and usually landing some distance away.
Jack Snipes breed in northern coniferous woods and tundra of Eurasia.
101. Eurasian Curlew (*) Sep Oct
The Eurasian Curlew is a winter visitor to Icelandic seashores. It is seen throughout the country, but most commonly in southwest Iceland and at Hornfjordur in the southeast. Birds that come to Iceland for the winter are from northern Europe, in Norway.
The Eurasian Curlew has also been found to be a rare breeder in Iceland, with nests found at Melrakkasletta in the northeast.
102. Bar-tailed Godwit (ph) (*) Sep Oct
The Bar-tailed Godwit is a somewhat irregular, but apparently an annual visitor to Iceland, with a few occurring occasionally in the winter on the seashores of southwestern Iceland and at Hornafjorour in southeast Iceland.
In Eurasia, the Bar-tailed Godwit is an Arctic breeder in northern Scandinavia and eastward across the Siberian tundra.
103. Pomarine Jaeger (or Pomarine Skua) (ph) (*) Jun
The Pomarine Jaeger is an Arctic bird, that passes through Iceland on migration in the spring and autumn, between its breeding grounds around the Arctic Ocean and its winter home in the South Atlantic Ocean. In Iceland, it is generally observed along the coast or at sea.
Two color morphs of the Pomarine Jaeger occur. Light birds are far more common than dark ones.
104. Long-tailed Jaeger (or Long-tailed Skua) (ph)
The Long-tailed Jaeger is normally an Arctic bird that passes through Iceland as a migrant in the spring and autumn, with its breeding grounds around the Arctic ocean and its wintering range in the southern Atlantic Ocean.
Although generally observed in Iceland along the coast or at sea, Long-tailed Jaegers occur inland more often than Pomarine Jaegers.
Two color morphs of the Long-tailed Jaeger occur. Light birds are far more common than dark.
In the summer of 2008, Iceland's only pair of Long-tailed Jaegers, in the northeast part of the country, raised one young.
105. Little Gull (ph) (*) Jun Sep
The Little Gull is an annual visitor in Iceland. It is seen during all seasons, but especially in the early summer in colonies of Black-headed Gulls.
In the summer of 2008, 2 young Little Gulls were raised in the Lake Myvatn area, reflecting the first recorded breeding success of the species in Iceland. There was an attempt to breed in the country in 2003, but the outcome was uncertain.
106. Ivory Gull (ph)
The Ivory Gull is an Arctic bird that is an annual visitor in Iceland from northern, frozen areas. In Iceland, it is mainly seen in the north.
Ivory Gulls generally follow the edge of pack ice in the ocean north of Iceland. When the pack ice reaches Iceland, small groups of them may be seen. Otherwise Icelandic sightings tend to be single birds.
An Ivory Gull was seen in northwest Iceland at Talknafjordur on April 30, 2015.
107. Common Wood Pigeon
A Common Wood Pigeon was in eastern Iceland at Reydarfjordur on April 13, 2015.
One was at Hofn also in eastern Iceland on April 4-7, 2015.
One was at Berga/Nes in southeast Iceland on March 18, 2015
108. Eurasian Collared Dove
A Eurasian Collared Dove was in southwest Iceland at Akranes on April 13, 2015, having been there for a while.
109. European Turtle Dove
110. Northern Long-eared Owl (ph)
Generally, the Long-eared Owl is a visitor in Iceland, but not annually, and usually found in the autumn and winter. The species is common in Europe and America.
On Aug 7, 2008, there was news that a pair of Long-eared Owls raised 3 chicks in southern Iceland.
111. Snowy Owl (ph)
Bubo (formerly Nyctea) scandiacus
The Snowy Owl is normally a breeding bird of the Arctic tundra, breeding in the most northerly countries of the world, including Greenland.
In earlier times, a Snowy Owl seen in Iceland was presumed to be a rare visitor from Greenland, but in 1932 the first Snowy Owl nest discovered in Iceland was found in rough terrain of the Odadaahraun region in the central highlands. It was a large nest with 4 almost completely round white eggs, similar in size to those of Gyrfalcons. The 2 large white parents were seen in flight over a nearby lava field. Another Snowy Owl nest was found in that region in June 1939. It contained 3 newly-hatched owlets. In the spring of 1940, another 3 Snowy Owl nests were found. A search in 1945 also ended with the finding of 3 Snowy Owl nests.
Snowy Owls may well have nested in the central highlands prior to 1932. The areas where the nests were subsequently discovered are difficult to reach, particularly so in the spring. By mid-summer, when the lava fields are more reachable, the young would have become fully fledged and the owls would have left their breeding grounds.
Breeding Snowy Owls were also discovered in the Odadhraun region in 1957 and around 1974, but according to our sources, no definite nests have been recorded in Iceland since then.
In 1985, an expedition was made into the Odadahraun region to ascertain if the Snowy Owl were breeding there. No nest, or evidence of breeding, was found, but one Snowy Owl was sighted in the area.
Snowy Owls have been seen in Iceland just about annually during recent years, but the birds could be vagrants from Greenland. Snowy Owls have been seen in Iceland during every season.
The Snowy Owl is a wary bird. Areas where it is found in Iceland are those with good vantage points for the bird.
In much of its range, Snowy Owls live largely on lemmings, but in Iceland its main diet is probably birds, particularly Ptarmigans. The Snowy Owl has also been said to seize fish from rivers and lakes with its claws.
112. Common Swift
The Rook, common on the European mainland, is a vagrant in Iceland, usually annually. When they do occur in Iceland, their numbers vary. It generally comes into the country in the autumn, either as solitary birds or in small groups that might stay through the winter. The Rook is mainly seen in southern Iceland, often in urban settings.
114. Western Jackdaw (ph)
The Western Jackdaw occurs as a vagrant in Iceland, either in the spring or the fall. Numbers seem to peak in October. Sometimes it occurs in groups.
The Western Jackdaw, a species which nests in buildings, has attempted a few times to breed in Iceland, but young have not been raised.
115. Bohemian Waxwing
A Bohemian Waxwing was in eastern Iceland at Stodvarfjordur on April 18, 2015.
116. European Robin (ph)
A fledgling European Robin was found in the summer of 2008, at Pingvellir, indicating the 2nd or 3rd successful breeding of the species in Iceland.
In the autumn of 2014, there was a bit of an influx of European Robins in southeastern Iceland. East of Hofn, there were sightings at 4 locations:
Single birds were of at 2 of the places, 1 on October 8, 2014, 1 on November 17, 2014. One was in Hofn on October 11, 2014.
A previous record in that section of Iceland was 1 bird on January 4, 2012.
At the two other locations in southeastern Iceland in the fall of 2014, there were sightings at Stodvarfjordur of 1 bird on October 8, 5 birds on November 14, and 8 birds on November 17, and at Djupivdgur of 2 birds on October 8 and 5 birds on November 17.
So the day with the maximum number in southeastern Iceland was November 17, 2014 with 13 birds at the 2 locations.
In northeastern Iceland, there was 1 bird at 1 location on November 9, 2014. And further west, in Husavik, there was 1 European Robin from November 11, 2014 through at least April 9, 2015.
Previous records in Husavik were single birds: October 14, 2008 to March 21, 2009, and January 16 to March 12, 2010, and October 9, 2010.
Another location in northeastern Iceland with records of European Robins has been Melrakkasletta with single birds: October 8 & 14, 1995, October 14 & 19, 1996, October 11, 1997, November 4, 2000, and October 31, 2010.
At 3 other places in northeastern Iceland there single birds on April 2, 1994, January 2, 2001, and November 9, 2014.
At one of those places, Tjornes, there were 5 European Robins on November 3, 2010.
In southern Iceland, 1 European Robin was at a garden in Selfoss the week of April 12-19, 2015, and prior to that in March.
Also in southern Iceland, there were 2 European Robins at Hvolsvollur on November 3, 2014. 1 was there October 10, 2014
1 was at Vik on October 11, 2014.
On the Westmann Islands, in Heimey, 1 European Robin was present November 19-27, 2014, two were there December 1-10, 2014, and 1 continued from December 15, 2014 to April 13, 2015.
In southern Iceland, at the Hofdaskogur Forest, 1 European Robin was seen April 7, 2015. Single birds were also seen there February 6, 2010 and February 7, 2013.
At Eyjafjoll in southern Iceland, there was a single European Robin on February 10, 2002.
In southwest Iceland, a single European Robin was at Akranes on March 26-30, 2015.
Much (but not all) of the info here about the European Robin in Iceland is from e-bird reports.
117. Song Thrush
A Song Thrush was at Hofn, in southeast Iceland, on April 14, 2015.
118. Brambling (ph) (*) Jun
The Brambling is a rare visitor in Iceland, mostly seen in the autumn. In Iceland, it can be found singly or in a small flock. Sometimes in the spring in Iceland, solitary singing males are found.
The Brambling has bred occasionally in various parts of Iceland. The number of breeders has fluctuated. A Brambling was singing at Pingbellir on June 4, 2008.
119. Common Chaffinch
Less so than the Brambling, the Common Chaffinch occurs, on occasion, in Iceland in the autumn, winter, and spring.
The Common Chaffinch has bred in Iceland several times, mainly in spruce trees. The first confirmed breeding in Iceland was in 1986.
In southern Iceland, after having been seen in the Selfoss area in 1980, the Common Chaffinch was not seen there again for years. But, now in 2015, 4 or 5 of them have been there, during the week of April 12-18, visiting a garden, where they had been present since October 2014.
120. Eurasian Siskin (*) Jun Sep Oct
Spinus (formerly Carduelis) spinus
2008 was a big year in Iceland for Eurasian Siskins.
121. Red Crossbill (*) Oct
The Red Crossbill has been known to have bred once in Iceland, in December 1994.
122. Garden Warbler
The Garden Warbler is one of the relatively common rarities in Iceland, occurring in the autumn. It breeds in mainland Europe east to central Asia.
123. Blackcap (*) Oct
The Blackcap is the most common of the Old World Warblers that occur in Iceland. It is an annual visitor in the autumn. The species is common in mainland Europe, the Middle East, and northwest Africa.
124. Common Chiffchaff
The Common Chiffchaff is the second most common of the Old World Warblers in Iceland, where it occurs annually in the autumn. Actually, it can survive the Icelandic winter. The bird feeds on the Green Spruce Aphid.
The Common Chiffchaff is a breeding bird in the woods of mainland Europe and Asia.
125. Willow Warbler
As is the Chiffchaff, the Willow Warbler is an annual visitor in the autumn, but less commonly so. In Iceland, it is usually seen earlier in the late-summer and early-fall season than the Chiffchaff.
The Willow Warbler is common in deciduous woodlands of mainland Europe and northern Asia.
126. Goldcrest (ph) (*) Jun Sep Oct
The Goldcrest has recently started to breed in Iceland, with the first proven occurrence in 1999.
127. Lapland Longspur (or Lapland Bunting)
4) VAGRANTS TO ICELAND:
Including accidentals on the "country
The exact or approximate number of records (as of 2006, or later) is in parentheses.
128. Common Quail (1)
The only Common Quail ever in Iceland was there on October 23, 1998.
129. Mute Swan (4)
Mute Swans were observed in Iceland on May 10, 1993, April 4 & May 17 & June 2, 1989, & June 18, 1998, August 3, 1996, & August 27, 2008.
130. "Bewick's" Tundra Swan (22)
131. Bean Goose (59)
132. Ross' Goose (2)
Chen (was Anser) rossii
A Ross' Goose in southern Iceland on April 14, 2015 was the 2nd record for the country. That bird continued until at least May 3 at Hyammur/Lon. Probably it was the same bird in eastern Iceland at Vofnafjordur on May 16, 2015.
133. Red-breasted Goose (4) (ph)
Red-breasted Geese were in Iceland on April 25, 2004, May 7, 2007, May 1, 2013, April 12, 2015, with the most recent in southern Iceland. Maybe it was the last of these that continued until at least May 6, 2015 at Adaldalur, in northeast Iceland, in the company of Greylag Geese.
134. Cackling Goose (ph)
A single Cackling Goose was in southeast Iceland on April 15, 2013.
135. Ruddy Shelduck (7)
136. Wood Duck (5) (ph)
2 Wood Ducks were in Iceland on April 26, 1984. Also Wood Ducks were in Iceland on April 15, 2006 & October 8, 1994.
137. Mandarin Duck (14-plus) (ph) (These wanderers from the introduced British population.)
138. Green-winged Teal (123-plus) (ph) (*) Jun
139. Blue-winged Teal (11) (ph)
Blue-winged Teals were at 3 locations in Iceland on September 22, 2011, 2 in the southwest, and 1 on the Westmann Islands.
140. Garganey (75) (*) Jun
A Garganey was in southwest Iceland from August 5 until at least August 12, 2011.
141. American Black Duck (31) (ph) (*) Sep Oct
142. Lesser Scaup (5) (ph)
Lesser Scaups were in Iceland on April 29, 2010, May 11, 2000, May 15, 2008, May 16, 1998 and June 2, 2001.
143. Ring-necked Duck (58) (ph)
A drake Ring-necked Duck was in southern Iceland on September 11, 2011. A female Ring-necked Duck was in northwest Iceland, at Bolungarvik on April 17, 2015, having been for a while in that area.
144. Redhead (2) (ph)
A Redhead was in Iceland on June 15, 1998.
145. Canvasback (1)
A Canvasback was in Iceland on April 11, 1977.
146. Bufflehead (4) (ph)
A Bufflehead was in Iceland on April 23, 2011 & May 15, 1998. The April 2011 bird was a first-winter drake at Hafnir in southwest Iceland.
147. Velvet Scoter (69)
A drake Velvet Scoter was found in southwest Iceland on October 16, 2001 (the same day that a White-winged Scoter was found).
148. White-winged Scoter (*) Jun (the North American species; was conspecific with the Velvet Scoter)
A White-winged Scoter was in Iceland on May 20, 2006. An Asian White-winged Scoter, Melanitta deglandi stejnegeri, was in Iceland on April 6, 2003.
A drake White-winged Scoter was found in southwest Iceland on October 16, 2011.
More recently, an adult male White-winged Scoter was in southwest Iceland from November 28, 2014 until March 30, 2015.
149. Surf Scoter (36-plus) (ph) (*) Jun
A female Surf Scoter was in southwest Iceland at Porkotlustadir/Grinivik on April 14, 2015, having been there for a while.
150. Steller's Eider (14) (ph)
A long-staying male Steller's Eider continued in northeast Iceland until June 2013. The "long stay" in Iceland for that bird was about 15 years.
A female Steller's Eider was in northeast Iceland on July 30 & 31, 2008.
The long-staying male Steller's Eider, referred to above, was in northeast Iceland from 1998 in the area of Borgarfjordur eystri (Bakkagerdi). It kept company with local Harlequin Ducks. That Steller's Eider was, during most of the year, in the sea by the village either in or near the harbor. When the Harlequins would head up the river to the south of the village to breed, the Steller's Eider would accompany them. That male Steller's Eider continued in the area until June 2013, enjoying its life with the Harlequins, as noted for a decade and a half.
151. Hooded Merganser (7) (ph)
A molting drake Hooded Merganser was at Lake Myvatn on August 29, 2008. Also, Hooded Mergansers were in Iceland on May 6, 2007, May 21, 1994, May 23, 1998 & April 18 & May 30, 2003.
An adult male Hooded Merganser was in Reykjavik from November 18, 2014 through the winter, until April 2015 at lake Ellidavatn.
152. Smew (16-plus)
A drake Smew was in eastern Iceland, at Krosstjarnir/Fellabaer, May 15-16, 2015.
153. Ruddy Duck (84) (ph) (A number of these wanderers are from the introduced British population.)
DIVER, ALBATROSS, STORM-PETREL, GREBES
154. Yellow-billed Loon (or White-billed Diver) (*) Jun
One was seen during our June 2006 Iceland Tour. Prior to that, the Yellow-billed Loon was not on the official "Iceland List". Unfortunately, it still is not, because even though we saw the bird well, a photograph was not obtained as our sighting was when we were on a moving ferry from Flatey Island in Breidajordur.
Subsequently, on August 17, 2011, the first documented Yellow-billed Loon in Iceland was found in the Westmann Islands. It stayed until September 12.
Another Yellow-billed Loon was in eastern Iceland in December 2011 & January 2012.
155. Arctic Loon (or Black-throated Diver) (*)
Said to be the first for Iceland, an Arctic Loon was reported in the western part of the island on February 24, 2012.
156. Black-browed Albatross (2) (ph)
An unidentified albatross was seen in Icelandic waters on August 30, 2002.
157. Wilson's Storm Petrel (1) (ph)
A Wilson's Storm Petrel was seen in Icelandic waters on August 11, 2007.
158. Pied-billed Grebe (3) (ph)
The Pied-billed Grebe in Iceland on August 2, 2011 was the third record for the country. The 2 previous records were on April 26, 2006 & October 10, 1976.
159. Little Grebe (1) (ph)
A Little Grebe was in Iceland on September 17, 2004.
160. Great Crested Grebe (7) (*) May
Great Crested Grebes were in Iceland on September 14, 2002, & October 29, 1995.
161. Red-necked Grebe (43) (ph)
STORKS, SPOONBILL, IBIS
162. Black Stork (2) (ph)
A Black Stork was in Iceland on June 10, 1996.
163. White Stork (4) (ph)
White Storks were in Iceland on March 27, 1975, April 24, 1969, & October 22, 2002.
164. Eurasian Spoonbill (5) (ph)
Eurasian Spoonbills were in Iceland on September 22, 2005, September 30, 1972, October 8, 1998, & October 10, 11, 19, & 24, 2008.
165. Glossy Ibis (7-plus) (ph)
A Glossy Ibis was in Iceland on October 6, 2005. More recently, one was in southwest Iceland, at Osbotnar, on May 3, 2015.
BITTERNS, HERONS, EGRETS
166. Eurasian Bittern (or Great Bittern) (5)
An Eurasian Bittern was observed in Iceland on March 31 & April 14, 2004. The 5th Eurasian Bittern for Iceland was found on October 30, 2011 and continued through at least November 16.
167. American Bittern (6) (ph)
An American Bittern was in Iceland on October 8, 1989.
168. Least Bittern (1) (ph)
A Least Bittern was in Iceland on September 17, 1970.
169. Little Bittern (2)
Very unexpected was a juvenile Little Bittern in southwest Iceland on October 16, 2011. It was the first live record for Iceland. The previous record was of a bird washed ashore on May 20, 1823.
170. Black-crowned Night Heron (9) (ph)
Black-crowned Night Herons were in Iceland on April 10, 1993, May 15, 2006, June 14, 1956, October 13, 2004, October 17, 1976, & November 2, 1980. Two Black-crowned Night Herons were observed on April 1, 1993.
171. Western Cattle Egret (6) (ph)
On November 1, 2011, the 5th Cattle Egret recorded in Iceland was eaten by a Gryfalcon. The 6th Cattle Egret for Iceland was found elsewhere that same day.
Previously, 2 Cattle Egrets were in Iceland on September 27, 2008.
172. Snowy Egret (3) (ph)
Snowy Egrets were in Iceland on April 6, 1974 & June 6, 1983.
173. Little Egret (14) (ph)
174. Great Egret (2) (ph)
Great Egrets were in Iceland on April 5, 2002, April 27, 2008 & May 1, 2000.
175. Great Blue Heron (2)
A Great Blue Heron was in Iceland on April 6, 1984.
176. Purple Heron (2)
Purple Herons were in Iceland on May 3, 2011 & October 5, 1983.
177. Squacco Heron (1)
The only Squacco Heron in Iceland was there on April 19, 1969.
178. Green Heron (2) (ph)
Green Herons were in Iceland on May 28, 2004, & October 29, 2001.
179. Common Kestrel (or Eurasian Kestrel) (80) (*) Sep Oct
180. Red-footed Falcon (4)
Red-footed Falcons were in Iceland on April 18, 1985 and April 20, 1981.
181. Eurasian Hobby (17)
A Eurasian Hobby was in southeast Iceland August 3 to 8, 2011.
182. Peregrine Falcon (16) (ph)
183. Osprey (20) (ph)
184. European Honey Buzzard (5)
European Honey Buzzards were in Iceland on June 7, 1941 September 5, 1988, September 24, 2000, & October 1, 1992..
185. Black Kite (3)
Black Kites were in Iceland on April 11, 2003, October 21, 2001, & October 24, 1982.
186. Red Kite (1) (ph)
187. Eurasian Sparrowhawk (9-plus) (ph)
Eurasian Sparrowhawks were in Iceland on April 20, 1987, October 15, 2010, October 19, 1988, & October 26. 1950. The 9th Eurasian Sparrowhawk for Iceland was found on October 30, 2011.
A Eurasian Sparrowhawk was at Hofn in southeast Iceland on December 10, 2014, and sightings of it, a female, continued until April 10, 2015.
In Friday, February 13, 2015, there were 2 Eurasian Sparrowhawks at Hofn.
Another was at Selfoss, in southern Iceland, December 30-31, 2014, and again there January 12 - February 9, 2015.
Yet another Eurasian Sparrowhawk sighting was in southeast Iceland, at Selberg/Nes on February 6, 2015.
188. Western Marsh Harrier (9)
Western Marsh Harriers were observed in Iceland on March 28 & April 12, 1993, and on May 2, 1994, May 13, 2006, September 13, 2006. & September 15, 1944.
189. Montagu's Harrier (3)
The 4th Montagu's Harrier for Iceland was a juvenile in the northeast part of the country on August 24, 2011. Previously, a Montagu's Harrier was in Iceland on September 27, 2002.
190. Hen Harrier (8) (not the Northern Harrier of North America)
On June 11 & 12, 2008, a male Hen Harrier was seen doing display flights in southern Iceland. Also Hen Harriers were in Iceland on May 19, 1974, October 15, 1957, & October 28, 2007.
191. Pallid Harrier (1)
The 1st Pallid Harrier for Iceland was found on September 14, 2011, a juvenile. It continued to be seen until September 17.
192. Common Buzzard (4) (ph)
Common Buzzards were in Iceland on March 22, 1998, May 21, 2004, June 17, 1982, September 13, 2008, & October 18, 2000.
193. Rough-legged Buzzard (or Rough-legged Hawk) (16) (ph)
194. Booted Eagle (1)
The only Booted Eagle in Iceland was there on October 30, 1974.
CRAKES & ALLIES, CRANE
195. Spotted Crake (8) (ph)
Spotted Crakes were in Iceland on September 30, 1979, October 13, 2004, & October 14, 1961.
196. Sora (1)
A Sora at Sudursveit, in southeast Iceland, April 25-27, 2011, was a first record for Iceland.
197. Corncrake (32) (ph)
198. Common Moorhen (94) (ph)
A first-year Common, or Eurasian Moorhen was in southwest Iceland at Astjorn/Hafnarfjordur on March 31, 2015, having been there for a while.
199. Purple Gallinule (2) (ph) (not the Purple Swamphen of the Old World)
A Purple Gallinule was in Iceland on September 5, 1976.
200. American Coot (3) (ph)
American Coots were in Iceland on March 10, 1971, and October 16, 2004.
201. Common Crane (39-plus) (ph)
A Common Crane was in eastern Iceland, at Borgarfjordur, on May 4, 2015.
WADERS (or SHOREBIRDS)
202. Pied Avocet (5) (ph)
4 Pied Avocets were observed in Iceland on April 7, 2004. A single Pied Avocet was observed in Iceland on March 31, 1954.
203. Semipalmated Plover (1) (ph)
The only Semipalmated Plover in Iceland was there on May 7, 2004.
204. Killdeer (3) (ph)
Killdeers were in Iceland on March 16, 1939, & October 17, 1980.
205. Greater Sand Plover (1)
206. Eurasian Dotterel (2) (ph)
Eurasian Dotterels were in Iceland on May 8, 1980, September 23, 1962, & October 8, 2007.
207. American Golden Plover (20) (ph)
An American Golden Plover was southwest Iceland on September 9, 2011. Later, 1 juvenile American Golden Plover was on the Westmann Islands on September 24, 2011, and 2 adult American Golden Plovers were in southwest Iceland that day. 1 was there on September 25,26 & 27. Then, 2 again on September 29. 1 was there the next day, on September 30, and 3 were there on October 1 to 3, and then, 2 on October 4.
208. Pacific Golden Plover (1) (ph)
The 1st Pacific Golden Plover for Iceland was in the southwest part of the country September 30 to October 2, 2011.
209. Spotted Redshank (10)
Spotted Redshanks were in Iceland on April 25, 1991, May 11, 2003, May 25, 1983, June 4, 1975, June 4, 1997, August 2, 2005, September 2, 1981, September 15, 2002, & September 16, 1988, & September 22, 1974.
210. Common Greenshank (18)
211. Greater Yellowlegs (2)
212. Lesser Yellowlegs (15) (ph)
A Lesser Yellowlegs was in southwest Iceland September 4 to 13, 2011.
213. Upland Sandpiper (3)
Upland Sandpipers were in Iceland on May 1, 1967 & May 3, 1974.
214. Common Sandpiper (10)
Common Sandpipers were in Iceland on May 7, 1964, May 14, 2003, May 20, 1966, May 21, 1989, May 22, 2002, June 4, 1963, and September 25, 1997.
215. Spotted Sandpiper (5) (ph)
Spotted Sandpipers were in Iceland on April 28, 1963, September 3, 2005, September 14, 2007, September 15, 1990, September 16 & October 14, 2007, & November 2, 1991.
216. Solitary Sandpiper (5) (ph)
The 5th Solitary Sandpiper for Iceland was found in the southeastern part of the country on September 4, 2011. Previously, there was a Solitary Sandpiper in Iceland on August 2, 1940, August 19, 1995, & August 24, 1969.
217. Green Sandpiper (4)
Green Sandpipers were in Iceland on April 20, 2004 , April 28, 1986, May 7, 1988, June 4, 2007, & September 5, 2010.
218. Wood Sandpiper (31) (ph)
The Wood Sandpiper has occasionally bred in Iceland in recent decades. Nests have been found near Lake Myvatn in northern Iceland.
219. Curlew Sandpiper (62) (ph)
220. Little Stint (19)
221. Temminck's Stint (1)
The only Temminck's Stint in Iceland was there on June 7, 2007.
222. Least Sandpiper (3) (ph)
Least Sandpipers were in Iceland on August 9, 1978, August 19, 1971, September 23, 1990, & October 10, 2009.
223. Semipalmated Sandpiper (7) (ph)
The 7th Semipalmated Sandpiper in Iceland was present in the southeast part of the country August 29 to September 17, 2011. Previously, Semipalmated Sandpipers were in Iceland on October 1, 1989, October 5, 1991, & October 14, 2007.
224. Western Sandpiper (1) (ph)
Western Sandpipers were in Iceland on August 26, 1998, & October 29, 2007.
225. White-rumped Sandpiper (78) (ph) (*) Oct
226. Baird's Sandpiper (4) (ph)
Baird's Sandpipers were in Iceland on August 30, 1996, September 3, 1994, September 14, 1996, & October 7, 2000..
227. Pectoral Sandpiper (46) (ph)
A Pectoral Sandpiper was in the Westmann Islands on September 3, 2011.
228. Buff-breasted Sandpiper (12) (ph)
A Buff-breasted Sandpiper was in the Westmann Islands on September 1, 2011. 3 Buff-breasted Sandpipers were in southwest Iceland on September 24.
229. Broad-billed Sandpiper (5)
Broad-billed Sandpipers were in Iceland on May 24, 1987, May 25, 1985, June 19, 1989, & August 25, 1979.
230. Stilt Sandpiper (1) (ph)
The only Stilt Sandpiper in Iceland was there on June 17, 1985.
231. Long-billed Dowitcher (10) (*) Sep
2 Long-billed Dowitchers were in southwest Iceland September 17 to 21, 2011. while another, the 10th for Iceland, was also in the southwest on September 20. Previously, Long-billed Dowitchers were in Iceland on April 10, 2006, May 29, 1999, August 23, 1980, September 18, 2007, September 23, 2006, & October 19, 1980.
232. Wilson's Snipe (1) (ph)
The only known Wilson's Snipe in Iceland was there on June 13, 2010.
233. Wilson's Phalarope (5)
The 5th Wilson's Phalarope for Iceland was in the southwest part of the country on September 5, 2011.Previously, Wilson's Phalaropes were in Iceland on September 16, 1979, September 20 & 21, 1992, & September 23, 1995.
234. Eurasian Stone-Curlew (1)
235. Collared Pratincole (1)
The only known Collared Pratincole in Iceland was there on June 7, 1997.
236. Black-winged Pratincole (3)
Black-winged Pratincoles were in Iceland on June 11, 1987, October 7, 1979, & October 8, 1083.
GULLS and TERNS
237. Ring-billed Gull (99-plus)
A Ring-billed Gull was found at Grindavik in southwest Iceland on March 22, 2015.
238. Yellow-legged Gull (3) (ph)
A third-summer Yellow-legged Gull was at Heimaey, on the Westmann Islands on May 6, 2011. Also, a Yellow-legged Gulls have been in Iceland on April 21, 1995, May 1, 2010, & August 25, 2000.
239. Thayer's Gull (3)
Thayer's Gulls were in Iceland on February 25, 2012 9at Hofn), March 2 & 12, 2005, March 10 & April 3, 2004 & April 8, 2006, & August 31, 2010.
240. Slaty-backed Gull (1) (ph)
The first Slaty-backed Gull for Iceland was found in Husavik in the north on May 14, 2012.
241. Glaucous-winged Gull (1)
A Glaucous-winged Gull at Reykjavik harbor from January 30 to at least February 5, 2015 was either the 1st or 2nd for Iceland.
242. Laughing Gull (15) (ph)
Leucophaeus (formerly Larus) atricilla
A Laughing Gull was at Hofn in southeast Iceland on December 16, 2011, in company with an Ivory Gull.
243. Franklin's Gull (3) (ph)
Leucophaeus (formerly Larus) pipixcan
Franklin's Gulls were in Iceland on June 19, 1997, September 21, 1984, & September 29, 1992.
244. Bonaparte's Gull (20) (ph)
Chroicocephalus (formerly Larus) philadelphia
245. Mediterranean Gull (1) (*) Sep
Most of the gulls at the glacial ice at Jokulsarlon, in eastern Iceland, during the FONT tour on September 29, 2013 were Black-headed Gulls.
But one was a first-winter Mediterranean Gull, a first for Iceland.
246. Sabine's Gull (67) (ph) (*) Sep
247. Ross' Gull (44-plus) (ph)
A first-summer Ross' Gull was in southern Iceland at Stokkseyri on May 16 & 17, 2015.
248. Gull-billed Tern (2) (ph)
Gull-billed Terns were in Iceland on April 21, 1987 & September 25, 1999.
249. Sandwich Tern (15) (ph)
250. Common Tern (4)
Common Terns were in Iceland on June 8, 2005 & September 25, 1999.
251. Forster's Tern (1) (ph)
A Forster's Tern was in Iceland on October 22, 1959.
252. Little Tern (1)
The only Little Tern in Iceland was there on June 10, 2006.
253. Sooty Tern (1) (ph)
The only Sooty Tern in Iceland was there on June 12, 1969.
254. Whiskered Tern (2) (ph)
A Whiskered Tern was in Iceland on April 24, 1987.
255. Black Tern (46) (ph)
256. White-winged Tern (11) (ph) (*) Jun
A White-winged Black Tern was in southeast Iceland August 8 to 16, 2011.
257. Crested Auklet (1)
258. Stock Dove (2)
Stock Doves were observed in Iceland on April 20, 2003, and on April 21 and May 1, 2007.
259. Mourning Dove (1) (ph)
A Mourning Dove was in Iceland on October 18, 1995.
260. Common Cuckoo (45)
261. Black-billed Cuckoo (2)
A Black-billed Cuckoo was in Iceland on October 21, 1982.
262. Yellow-billed Cuckoo (3)
Yellow-billed Cuckoos were in Iceland on October 5, 1954, & October 13, 1987.
OWL, NIGHTJAR, NIGHTHAWK
263. Eurasian Scops Owl (5)
A Eurasian Scops Owl was noted in Iceland on April 20 & May 31, 1960.
264. Eurasian Nightjar (2)
Eurasian Nightjars were in Iceland on June 17, 1977 & October 25, 1933.
265. Common ("American") Nighthawk (1)
A Common Nighthawk was in Iceland on October 23, 1955.
266. Alpine Swift (4)
An Alpine Swift was in southern Iceland on August 6, 2011. Previous occurrences were on April 15, 1980, May 2, 2002, & June 16, 1981.
KINGFISHER, BEE-EATER, ROLLER, HOOPOE
267. Belted Kingfisher (5) (ph)
A Belted Kingfisher was observed in Iceland on May 17 & June 18, 1998. Another Belted Kingfisher was in Iceland on October 10, 2003.
268. European Bee-eater (2) (ph)
A European Bee-eater at Siglufjordur in northern Iceland, on May 15, 2011, was the 2nd record for the country. Previously, a European Bee-eater was in Iceland on June 8, 1989.
269. European Roller (3)
European Rollers were in Iceland on September 6, 1988 & September 11, 1964.
270. Eurasian Hoopoe (11)
Eurasian Hoopoes were observed in Iceland on April 16, 1969, April 20 & May 3, 2009, June 2, 1963, August 31, 1942, September 2, 2009, September 5, 1951, September 17, 1901, October 1, 2006, October 2, 1910, & October 8, 1993..
271. Great Spotted Woodpecker (8) (ph)
Great Spotted Woodpeckers were in Iceland on September 28 & 29, 1953, October 23, 1968, & October 24 & 25, 1999.
272. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (2) (ph)
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were in Iceland on June 5, 1961 and October 7-13, 2007. The bird seen October 7-13, 2007 was in a garden in Selfoss, in southern Iceland.
It was the second for Iceland, and the first ever seen there alive. The first, in 1961, in southeastern Iceland, was found dead.
273. Eurasian Wryneck (13)
274. Acadian Flycatcher (1)
275. Least Flycatcher (1)
A Least Flycatcher was in Iceland on October 6, 2003.
276. Alder Flycatcher (1)
An Alder Flycatcher was in Iceland on October 10, 2003.
277. Red-backed Shrike (13) (ph)
278. Great Gray (or Northern) Shrike (8) (ph)
Great Grey Shrikes were in Iceland on April 29, 1978, May 4, 1966, October 12, 2009, & October 20, 1982. The 8th Great Grey Shrike for Iceland was found on October 30, 2011.
279. Woodchat Shrike (1)
A Woodchat Shrike was in Iceland on May 12, 1970.
280. Red-eyed Vireo (22)
2 Red-eyed Vireos were in southwest Iceland September 21-23, 2011. One was in southeast Iceland on October 3, 2011.
Previously, Red-eyed Vireos were in Iceland on September 16, 1951, September 27, 1973, September 28, 2008, September 28, 2009, September 29 & October 6, 1996, October 1 & 4 & 7, 1997, October 4, 1978, October 6, 1996, October 8, 1997, October 18, 1995, October 20, 1985, & October 20 & 27, 1995. Two Red-eyed Vireos were in Iceland on September 30, 1997 & on October 22, 1995.
OLD WORLD ORIOLE
281. Eurasian Golden Oriole (12)
Eurasian Golden Orioles were in Iceland on May 20, 1957, May 25, 1976, June 3, 1994, June 5, 1988, June 9, 1972, September 10, 1960, & October 1, 1987..
282. Hooded Crow (88)
Corvus corone cornix
283. Cedar Waxwing (2) (ph)
A Cedar Waxwing was in Iceland on October 8, 2003.
284. Northern Great Tit (5)
Northern Great Tits were in Iceland on March 11, 1989 & March 14, 1977.
More recently, 2 Northern Great Tits were in eastern Iceland from November 2 to at least December 13, 2014.
On April 30, 2015, a Northern Great Tit was at Nesskaupsstadur in eastern Iceland.
285. Tree Swallow (1) (ph)
The first Tree Swallow for Iceland was in the Reykjavik area (at Helluvatn) May 15-17, 2012.
286. Sand Martin (or Bank Swallow) (30)
287. Red-rumped Swallow (2)
Red-rumped Swallows were in Iceland on June 3, 1988 & May 30, 2004.
288. American Cliff Swallow (3)
Petrochelidon (formerly Hirundo) pyrrhonota
Single American Cliff Swallows were in Iceland on October 12, 1992 & October 12, 2004.
289. Greater Short-toed Lark (3)
A Greater Short-toed Lark was in Iceland on October 24, 1944.
290. Eurasian Skylark (107)
291. Horned Lark (or Shore Lark) (1)
OLD WORLD WARBLERS
292. Lanceolated Warbler (1)
A Lanceolated Warbler was in Iceland on October 9, 1983.
293. Common Grasshopper Warbler (2)
A Common Grasshopper Warbler was in Iceland on May 19, 1951.
294. River Warbler (2)
River Warblers were in Iceland on June 10, 2008, October 4, 1974, & October 11, 2007.
295. Sedge Warbler (10)
296. Blyth's Reed Warbler (7)
The 7th Blyth's Reed Warbler for Iceland was found in the southeastern part of the country on September 18, 2011. Previously, Blyth's Reed Warblers were seen in Iceland on September 13 & October 15, 2002, & October 16, 2004. Two Blyth's Reed Warblers were in Iceland on October 17, 2003.
297. Marsh Warbler (12)
298. Eurasian Reed Warbler (13)
A Eurasian Reed Warbler was in southwest Iceland on October 28-29, 2011.
299. Paddyfield Warbler (1)
A Paddyfield Warbler was in Iceland on September 18, 2004.
300. Sykes's Warbler (1)
A Sykes's Warbler was in Iceland on September 14, 2002.
301. Icterine Warbler (8)
Icterine Warblers were in Iceland on June 3, 1967, June 20, 1992, August 10, 2004, September 7, 2004, September 10, 2004, September 16, 2006, & September 17, 2004, & September 18, 2002.
302. Melodious Warbler (1)
A Melodious Warbler was in Iceland on October 4, 1987.
303. Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (2)
In September 2008, there was the first occurrence of the Eastern Olivaceous Warbler in Iceland. Later, there was one on September 15, 2009.
304. Subalpine Warbler (2)
Subalpine Warblers were in Iceland on May 26, 1992 & September 29, 1996.
305. Barred Warbler (112)
A Barred Warbler was in southeast Iceland on September 10, 2011.
306. Common Whitethroat (37)
307. Lesser Whitethroat (182)
3 Lesser Whitethroats were in southeast Iceland on September 20, 2011. 1 was there on September 22.
308. Arctic Warbler (3)
Arctic Warblers were in Iceland on September 18, 1999, September 22, 1996. & September 30, 2004..
309. Wood Warbler (59)
310. Yellow-browed Warbler (103) (ph)
311. Dusky Warbler (1)
The 1st Dusky Warbler for Iceland was found on October 28, 2011.
312. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (2) (ph)
A Ruby-crowned Kinglet was in Iceland on October 19, 1998.
313. Red-breasted Nuthatch (1) (ph)
The only Red-breasted Nuthatch in Iceland was there on May 21, 1970.
314. Rosy Starling (31) (*) Oct
315. Wood Thrush (1)
The only Wood Thrush ever in Iceland was there on October 23, 1967.
316. Hermit Thrush (10)
Hermit Thrushes were in Iceland on September 26, 1986, October 13, 2005, October 14, 2009, October 15, 1986, October 15, 2000, October 20, 1985, October 24, 1992, & October 26, 1957.
317. Swainson's Thrush (4)
Swainson's Thrushes were in Iceland on September 27, 1995, September 27, 2009, September 30, 2005, October 9, 1996, & October 14, 1978.
318. Gray-cheeked Thrush (4)
Gray-cheeked Thrushes were in Iceland on October 17, 2005, & October 30, 1983.
More recently, a Gray-cheeked Thrush was found in Iceland on November 2, 2014.
319. Ring Ouzel (38) (ph)
320. Black-throated Thrush (1)
321. American Robin (5)
American Robins were in Iceland on March 14, 1958, October 6, 2003, October 13, 2001, October 18, 2008, & October 28, 1969, and November 15 & 17, 2011.
322. Mistle Thrush (46-plus)
323. Varied Thrush (1) (ph)
Ixoreus (formerly Zoothera) naevia
The only Varied Thrush in Iceland was seen there on May 3, 2004.
324. White's (Ground) Thrush (4)
White's Thrushes were in Iceland on October 9, 1982, & October 14, 1939. One in southeast Iceland that was taken into care on November 26, 2011 subsequently died.
CHATS and OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS
325. Bluethroat (17) (ph)
326. Siberian Rubythroat (1) (ph)
327. Thrush Nightingale (2)
Thrush Nightingales were in Iceland on October 15, 2002, & November 2, 2004.
328. Common Nightingale (13)
The 13th Common Nightingale for Iceland was seen in the northeast part of the country on October 15, 2011.
329. Black Redstart (28) (ph)
330. Common Redstart (104)
331. Whinchat (121)
332. Eurasian Stonechat (20)
333. Spotted Flycatcher (112)
A Spotted Flycatcher was in northeast Iceland on October 8, 2011.
334. European Pied Flycatcher (82)
A European Pied Flycatcher was in southeast Iceland on October 18,19 & 23, 2011.
335. Red-breasted Flycatcher (25)
OLD WORLD SPARROWS, ACCENTORS
336. Eurasian Tree Sparrow (6)
Eurasian Tree Sparrows were in Iceland on May 22, 1976, May 25, 1959, & October 5, 1995.
337. Dunnock (or Hedge Accentor) (29)
PIPITS and WAGTAILS
338. Tree Pipit (21)
339. Eurasian Rock Pipit (24-plus)
340. Tawny Pipit (1)
The only Tawny Pipit in Iceland was was there on October 27, 1947.
341. Olive-backed Pipit (1) (ph)
An Olive-backed Pipit was in Iceland on November 2, 2004.
342. Pechora Pipit (1)
A Pechora Pipit was in Iceland on October 9, 1967.
343. Buff-bellied (or American) Pipit (10) (ph) (*) sep
Buff-bellied (or American) Pipits were in Iceland on April 24, 1993, & September 16, 2000, September 19, 2007, September 27, 2009, September 28, 2008, October 2, 2005, October 5, 1983, October 7 & 9, 2004, October 11, 2007, October 11, 2009, October 16, 1977, October 20, 2007, & October 21, 1989. Three Buff-bellied Pipits were in Iceland on September 20, 2008 & September 21, 2009 & 2 on September 24, 2009.
344. Yellow Wagtail (including "Grey-headed" Yellow Wagtail) (21)
345. Citrine Wagtail (10)
Citrine Wagtails were in Iceland on September 3, 1997, September 11, 1994, September 14 & 21, 2006, October 4, 2003, October 8, 1998, October 20, 1990, October 29, 1982, & October 31, 1973.
346. Grey Wagtail (36)
A Grey Wagtail was seen in Iceland on October 27, 2011.
347. European Greenfinch (8)
Chloris (has been Carduelis) chloris
European Greenfinches were observed in Iceland on March 22, 1997, April 17 & May 3, 2008, April 25, 1998, May 5, 1998, May 7, 2010, May 22, 2006, June 1, 2005, & November 1, 2006.
348. European Goldfinch (10)
Spinus (has been Carduelis) carduelis
The 10th European Goldfinch for Iceland was in the southeast part of the island on October 26, 2011. Previously, European Goldfinches were in Iceland on October 12, 2006, & October 17, 2005. Two European Goldfinches were in Iceland on October 13, 2006.
349. Arctic (or Hoary) Redpoll (18) (*) sep
Acanthis (has been Carduelis) hornemanni
An Arctic Redpoll was in southeast Iceland on October 19, 2011.
2 Arctic Redpolls, Acanthis hornemanni hornemanni, the "Hornemann's, or Greenland Redpoll". were seen during the FONT Iceland Tour on September 26, 2013 in Reykjavik.
More recently, an Arctic Redpoll, Acanthis hornemanni hornemanni, was in northern Iceland at Husavik on March 16, 2015, following a different bird there on March 12.
One was at Selfoss in southern Iceland on March 11, 2015.
350. Common Linnet (2)
Common Linnets were in Iceland on April 24, 2005, & October 18, 2001.
351. Common (or Scarlet) Rosefinch (82)
A Common Rosefinch was in eastern Iceland on August 17, 2011.
352. Parrot Crossbill (5)
Parrot Crossbills were seen in Iceland on September 28 & October 14, 1962. Two Parrot Crossbills were observed on October 5, 1962.
353. White-winged (or Two-barred) Crossbill (1)
A White-winged Crossbill was in Iceland on August 6, 2009.
354. Eurasian Bullfinch (190)
The largest number of Eurasian Bullfinches in Iceland was in the autumn of 1994, and into the winter.
During that winter, there were 40 to 50 spotted throughout the country.
355. Hawfinch (24-plus)
A Hawfinch was in southeast Iceland, at Hofn, May 5-10, 2015.
NEW WORLD WARBLERS
356. Black-and-white Warbler (2)
Black-and-white Warblers were in Iceland on September 1, 1970, October 19, 1991.
357. Tennessee Warbler (1) (ph)
Oreothlypis (formerly Vermivora) peregrina
The only Tennessee Warbler in Iceland was there on October 14, 1956.
358. Northern Parula (8) (ph)
Setophaga (formerly Parula) americana
The Northern Parula in southwest Iceland September 19-20, 2011 was the 8th for Iceland, and the first since 1989. In 1989, the Northern Parula was in Iceland on September 27 & 29.
Also, Northern Parula occurred in Iceland on October 8, 1962, October 21, 1948, October 24, 1957, October 25, 1913, & October 28, 1952.
359. Yellow Warbler (3) (ph)
Setophaga (formerly Dendroica) petechia
Yellow Warblers were in Iceland on August 25, 2000, September 10, 2003, October 5, 1996, & October 11, 2009.
360. Cerulean Warbler (t3) (1)
Setophaga (formerly Dendroica) cerulea
A Cerulean Warbler was in Iceland on October 1, 1997.
361. Black-throated Blue Warbler (2)
Setophaga (formerly Dendroica) caerulescens
Black-throated Blue Warblers were in Iceland on September 14, 1998, & October 17, 2003.
362. Black-throated Green Warbler (1) (ph)
Setophaga (formerly Dendroica) virens
A Black-throated Green Warbler was see in Iceland on October 27, 2003.
363. Blackburnian Warbler (1) (ph)
Setophaga (formerly Dendroica) fusca
364. Magnolia Warbler (2) (ph)
Setophaga (formerly Dendroica) magnolia
Magnolia Warblers were in Iceland on September 29, 1995, & October 21, 1995.
365. "Myrtle" Yellow-rumped Warbler (14) (ph)
Setophaga (formerly Dendroica) coronata
A "Myrtle" Yellow-rumped Warbler was in Iceland on September 25, 1993, & October 1, 1989. Two were there on September 26, 1980.
Other Yellow-rumped Warblers were in Iceland on October 10, 11 & 13, 1976, October 10, 1999, October 13, 1991, October 16, 1996, October 17, 2005, October 19, 1996, October 21, 2001, October 24, 2009, & October 25, 1964.
366. Palm Warbler (1)
Setophaga (formerly Dendroica) palmarum
A Palm Warbler was in Iceland on October 5, 1997.
367. Blackpoll Warbler (13) (ph)
Setophaga (formerly Dendroica) striata
Blackpoll Warblers were in Iceland on September 28, 1972, October 7, 1995, October 13, 2009, October 16 & 17 & 23, 2005, October 18 & 22, 1974, October 23, 1979, October 28, 2001, & October 30, 1975.
2 Blackpoll Warblers were in Iceland on October 18, 2005.
368. American Redstart (1) (ph)
An American Redstart was in Iceland on September 10, 1975.
369. Common Yellowthroat (3) (ph)
The 3rd Common Yellowthroat for Iceland was seen October 26-29, 2011. Previously, a Common Yellowthroat was in Iceland on September 26, 1997.
370. Canada Warbler (1) (ph)
Cardellina (formerly Wilsonia) canadensis
A Canada Warbler was in Iceland on September 29, 1973.
NEW WORLD ORIOLES and BLACKBIRDS
371. Baltimore Oriole (4) (ph)
Baltimore Orioles were in Iceland on October 7, 2003, October 8. 1956, & October 15, 1971.
372. Yellow-headed Blackbird (1) (ph)
SPARROWS and BUNTINGS
373. White-throated Sparrow (5)
A White-throated Sparrow was in Iceland on June 10, 1964 & June 18, 1974.
374. White-crowned Sparrow (1) (ph)
A White-crowned Sparrow was in Iceland on October 4, 1978.
375. Fox Sparrow (1) (ph)
376. Dark-eyed Junco (1) (ph)
377. Yellowhammer (14) (ph)
378. Pine Bunting (1)
The only Pine Bunting ever in Iceland was there on October 30, 1944.
379. Little Bunting (7)
Little Buntings were in Iceland on May 8, 1988, October 3, 1992, October 26, 1996, & October 30. 1980.
380. Rustic Bunting (4)
Rustic Buntings were in Iceland on May 28, 1966, May 28, 1995, October 2, 1976, October 28, 1991, & October 31, 2009.
381. Reed Bunting (22)
A male Reed Bunting on May 17, 2011 was the first record for the species in western Iceland.
382. Ortolan Bunting (6)
Ortolan Buntings were in Iceland on May 22, 1969, May 26, 1957, September 27, 1992, September 30, 1968, October 11, 1976, & October 15, 1939.
383. Yellow-breasted Bunting (1)
A Yellow-breasted Bunting was in Iceland on September 22, 1978.
384. Black-headed Bunting (3)
A Black-headed Bunting was in Iceland on September 15, 1990.
TANAGER, GROSBEAK, BUNTING
385. Scarlet Tanager (4) (ph)
Scarlet Tanagers were in Iceland on October 7, 1967 & October 23, 1967.
386. Rose-breasted Grosbeak (1) (ph)
A Rose-breasted Grosbeak was in Iceland on October 20, 2001.
387. Indigo Bunting (2) (ph)
Indigo Buntings were in Iceland on October 20, 1985 & October 27, 1951.
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