Most Common Birds in Iceland

For an in-depth look at the beautiful birds of Iceland, we’ve compiled data from trusted sources and consulted with Ornithologists to ensure its accuracy. Join us as we explore these feathered friends through photographs and critical knowledge.

Atlantic Puffins in Iceland

Atlantic Puffin

Atlantic Puffins are one of the most iconic birds found in the region. These small sea-birds are characterized by their bright yellow and orange bills, black and white feathers, and orange legs. They have an omnivorous diet that includes fish, crustaceans, molluscs, as well as other seabird eggs.

Atlantic Puffins breed mainly on small islands off the coast of Iceland and can be found in both coastal and inland areas. They display behavior such as forming large groups to feed, roosting during the night and day, flying over long distances between their breeding ground to find food for their young, and flocking in order to protect themselves from predators.

Atlantic Puffin range map

Golden Plover in Iceland

European Golden Plover

Golden Plovers are medium-sized migratory waders, with a length of about 19-20 cm and a wingspan of 40–44 cm. They have an orange-golden back and upper breast, black face mask and neck ring that fades to white at the throat, and brown or grey wing tips. Their diet consists mainly of insects, worms, and other invertebrates found on the ground.

In Iceland, Golden Plovers breed in open grassy habitats, such as moorlands and tundras, during the summer months of June to August. During this time they are territorial, defending their breeding sites from other birds and predators. Outside of the breeding season, they gather in flocks and migrate to warmer climates in October, returning to Iceland from March onwards. They are usually found in wet meadows, pastures and on muddy coastal flats.

Golden Plovers can be quite vocal during the breeding season; they produce a variety of shrill calls when disturbed or when defending their territory. They also have a distinctive alarm call to signal a potential threat, consisting of a single sharp “pip” or “quick”.

European Golden Plover range map

Arctic Terns in Iceland

Arctic Tern

Arctic Terns have a variety of identifying characteristics, such as black head and neck feathers with a white chin, bright red legs and bill, pointed wings, and forked tail. They have a diet that consists largely of small fish and insects. On average, Arctic Terns in Iceland are about 30 cm long and weigh around 115 g. They can be found in the coastal areas of Iceland, nesting near beaches, rivers, and lakes. During the breeding season, Arctic Terns are known for their aggressive behavior towards potential predators and intruders.

They often dive-bomb intruders or swoop down on them with their wings open and bills pointed downward in an attempt to ward off any possible danger. The Arctic Tern is an iconic bird of Iceland, and their presence in the area adds to its beauty.

Arctic Tern range map

Eurasian Collared Dove

Eurasian Collared Dove2

(Streptopelia decaocto) is a medium-sized dove native to Iceland. They have white underside with a distinctive black collar that wraps around their neck, giving them the namesake. Their diet consists of seeds, grains, and insects. Eurasian Collared Doves are relatively large compared to other dove species, measuring up to 34 cm long and having an average weight of 165 g.

They are found in a variety of habitats including open areas like fields, parks, and gardens but they can also be found in forested areas. In Iceland, these birds prefer to live near human dwellings for their food source, nesting material, and protection from predators.

The behavior of the Eurasian Collared Dove is characterized by its social nature. They are often seen in pairs, but can be found in larger flocks of 10 or more individuals. These birds often roost communally and have been known to mate for life, forming strong bonds with their partner.

When threatened, they will seek refuge among trees or tall grasses and may even dive into water for protection. They are also quite vocal and have many different calls that they use to communicate with one another.

Geirfugl – Great auk

Great Auk

The great auk – is a flightless bird native to Iceland. It is characterized by its black body and white patches of feathers on the wings, head, and back. Geirfugl was one of the largest birds in Europe and weighed up to 9 kilograms with a length of up to 75 centimeters.

The diet of this species mainly consists of fish, mollusks and crustaceans, which they would catch from the sea.

Geirfugl used to inhabit rocky islands off the coast of Iceland and mainly breed there. They were known to have a strong sense of home – returning to their birth colony in order to breed. Unfortunately, due to overexploitation, they became extinct in the 19th century.

Their behavior was known to be quite social and it is believed that they would spend some time in groups near their breeding colonies. They were also very vocal birds and their calls could be heard from far away distances.

Rock Ptarmigans in Iceland

Rock Ptarmigan

Rock Ptarmigans are medium-sized birds belonging to the grouse family. They have a stocky build, short necks, and small heads. Adults have mottled brown feathers in the summer which change to white during colder months for camouflage against snow and ice. Males are generally larger than females and have black stripes on their faces and red combs over their eyes.

Rock Ptarmigans in Iceland typically eat a variety of plants, insects, and berries. Springtime brings an abundance of green vegetation which is their primary food source. They will also occasionally scavenge for carrion or feed on eggs.

The average weight of the Rock Ptarmigan in Iceland is between 12-20 ounces and they measure between 12-16 inches in body length. Rock Ptarmigans inhabit the tundra regions of Iceland and can also be found in alpine areas.

Rock Ptarmigans are mainly ground-dwelling birds and will usually walk to their destination, but they can fly short distances if alarmed. They are diurnal, meaning they are most active during the daytime and sleep at night. They use a variety of calls to communicate with each other and their chicks. During mating season males become territorial, chasing away rivals from their territory.

Rock Ptarmigans play an important role in Iceland’s ecology as their droppings provide essential nutrients for vegetation growth, which in turn is the main food source for many of the country’s other species. They also provide predators with a readily available prey.

In Iceland, Rock Ptarmigans are an important game bird and have been hunted since ancient times. Hunting still takes place today but is heavily regulated to ensure their numbers remain stable.

Rock Ptarmigan range map

Lóa – European golden plover

European golden plover3

The European golden plover – is a small wading bird that can be found in Iceland and across Europe. It has a black back, white belly, and bright yellow face. Its wings feature bold black markings on the upper surface during the breeding season. The European golden plover’s diet consists mainly of insects and other invertebrates such as earthworms and larvae. During the winter months, it will also eat seeds and berries.

The European golden plover measures around 21-25 cm in length and has a wingspan of around 45 cm. It can be found in a variety of habitats such as grasslands, marshes, wet meadows, and upland moors. In Iceland, the golden plover is a migratory species, arriving in April and leaving by September.

The European golden plover is a social bird that typically moves in large flocks of around 50-100 individuals. They can often be seen flying high above the ground in tight formations, but will also forage for food on the ground in smaller groups. During the breeding season, the male plover will perform elaborate courtship displays to attract a mate. This involves flying up into the air and then gliding back down with wings spread out and tail feathers fanned.

European Golden Plover range map

Eurasian Siskin

Eurasian Siskin

Eurasian Siskin is a small bird that is found in Iceland. It measures about 11 centimeters long and has a wingspan of 17–20 cm. The upperparts are grey-green and the belly is yellow or whitish. It has black stripes on its head and nape, as well as an orange patch on its shoulder which can be seen when it flies. It has a distinctive black streak down its back, and yellow stripes on its wings.

The Eurasian Siskin is found in coniferous forests and woodlands, as well as in gardens. They feed mainly on seeds, but also eat some insects. In the summertime they will also feed on flower buds, berries and shoots.

The Eurasian Siskin is a social bird and will often be seen in small groups, flocking together to feed. They are also known for their acrobatic flight, soaring in circles and diving down steeply before rising again. During the breeding season they have a soft melodic call which can be heard in the early morning and evening.

In the winter months they will migrate southwards, but some stay in Iceland throughout the colder months. Despite their small size and vulnerability to predators, they are common across their range. They are a conservation concern however due to habitat loss and degradation. Conservation efforts in Iceland include protecting areas of forest where these birds can nest and feed.

Eurasian Siskin range map1

White-Tailed Eagles in Iceland

White-Tailed Eagle

White-Tailed Eagles in Iceland are large birds of prey, with an average wingspan of up to 7.2 feet and a body length of 37-43 inches. They have a white tail, yellow legs, and brownish or blackish feathers on their heads and backs. Their diet consists mainly of fish, but they also feed on small mammals, sea birds, voles, and sea ducks.

White-tailed eagles are found throughout Iceland, living in both coastal and inland areas. They prefer habitats that offer large open water sources with nearby trees for nesting. In Iceland, these birds typically build their nests in tall pine or fir trees near the coast.

White-tailed eagles display a number of interesting behaviors in the wild. They often soar over bodies of water, looking for prey. They also engage in spectacular courtship displays that involve mid-air dives and rolling flights. During breeding season, they can be seen building nests or gathering materials to line them.

White-Tailed Eagle range map1

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling is a medium-sized bird found in Iceland. It has black feathers with iridescent sheen and bright yellow beak and legs. Its size ranges from 7 to 8 inches long, with an average wingspan of about 11 inches.

European Starlings prefer open habitats such as fields, meadows, parks, and woodlands. They forage for food on the ground and in shrubs. Their diet consists mainly of insects, but they also eat seeds, fruits, and even carrion.

European Starlings are social and gregarious birds. They can be seen gathering in large flocks during migration or feeding at bird feeders with other species. They often nest in large groups and in hard-to-reach places like eaves or creeks.

European Starlings are considered an invasive species, as they outcompete native bird species for food, nest sites, and habitat. To protect native bird populations, it is important to discourage starling nesting in the area. This can be done by keeping bird feeders clean, limiting the availability of potential nesting sites, and trimming foliage near buildings.

Eurasian Wren

Eurasian Wren1

Eurasian Wrens are small birds found in Iceland. They have a size of about 4.7-5.9 inches and weigh around 0.25 – 0.56 ounces. Their wingspan ranges from 7 to 8 inches with a round body that is brownish gray on the upper parts and light gray underneath, with white or yellowish eyebrows, dark barring on the wings, and a short tail. They have slender, pointed bills and yellowish eyes.

The Eurasian Wren is a primarily insectivorous bird that consumes insects such as spiders, beetles, grasshoppers, flies, moths, caterpillars and also feed on some small berries.

These birds usually inhabit deciduous and coniferous forests, gardens, marshlands and bushland. They are found in higher altitudes of up to 1800 m in the subalpine zone.

Behaviorally, Eurasian Wrens have a territorial nature with males defending their territories by singing loudly. They nest near the ground or low vegetation, making a dome-shaped nest with moss, feathers, and fur. They are also known for their loud singing throughout the year.

Eurasian Wren range map1

What is the national bird of Iceland?

The Iceland national bird of Iceland is the gyrfalcon. It is a large and powerful falcon, usually with white or gray plumage. Gyrfalcons can be found throughout most of Iceland, typically living in colonies on cliffs near coasts and high mountains. They are also known for their hunting prowess, as they can spot prey from great heights and can dive at speeds of up to 200 mph. The national bird of Iceland is a symbol of strength, freedom, and beauty. Its unique features make it an iconic bird species for the country.

Gyrfalcons are highly valued birds in Icelandic culture and are often used as symbols of royalty due to their size and majestic bird appearance. They are also a popular choice for falconry, with some of the birds trained to hunt sea birds as well as ducks and other game. The gyrfalcon is a protected species in Iceland, so it’s illegal to hunt or capture them without a permit.

Iceland’s national bird is a symbol of the country’s rugged beauty and wild spirit, as well as its commitment to preserving wildlife. It is also a reminder of the importance of respecting nature and protecting Iceland’s unique biodiversity.

What birds can I see in Iceland?

Iceland is home to a range of different types of birds, both native and migratory. Commonly seen birds in Iceland include the White Wagtail, Redwing, Rock Ptarmigan, Northern Fulmar, Snipe, Common Raven, Golden Plover and Red-throated Diver. Other more unique species which may be spotted in Iceland include the Harlequin Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Black Guillemot, Little Auk and Pomarine Skua.

During migration seasons birdwatchers may also have a chance to see a variety of Arctic nesting birds, such as Arctic Terns, Common Eider Ducks and various species of Gulls. Iceland is also home to a number of different raptors, including the White-tailed Eagle and Rough-legged Buzzard.

What is the white bird in Iceland?

The white bird in Iceland is the Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis). This species of goose breeds mainly on coasts and islands of Arctic Europe, Greenland, and Canada. It migrates south to winter in temperate regions. In Iceland, it can be found in large numbers from late spring until autumn but will occasionally overwinter near Reykjavik. The Barnacle Goose is a medium-sized bird, measuring up to 33 inches in length and weighing between 2.2 and 3.7 pounds.

It has white feathers on its body and black wings with distinctive white patches near the tips of the flight feathers. Its bill is pinkish-orange and it has bright orange legs. The Barnacle Goose is an extremely hardy species, able to withstand cold temperatures and harsh winters. They eat insects, grasses, aquatic plants, and other vegetation.

They typically feed in flocks near wetlands or coastal areas. These birds are popular with birdwatchers in Iceland and can often be seen along the coastline as they migrate south and back again in the spring. They are a protected species in Iceland and their population is stable.

Where are the birds in Iceland?

Birds are abundant in Iceland and can be found across the country. The most common birds in Iceland include the ptarmigan, snow bunting, ravens, ducks, gulls and various types of waders such as plovers.

The best places to spot birds in Iceland are around its lakes, rivers, wetlands and coasts. The Faxarfjördur inlet on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is one of the best places to view a variety of different bird species, as well as Icelandic geese and ducks.

Icelandic waters are also home to many sea birds including kittiwakes, skuas, guillemots and puffins, which can be seen from the shores or from organised bird watching tours. Puffin season runs from May to August and is especially popular with birdwatchers.

The best time of year for spotting birds in Iceland is during the summer months when days are longer and temperatures milder. During this period, many birds nest. Spring is also a good time to observe more migratory species that have come to breed in the country.

For those looking for a more adventurous bird watching experience, there are many wild and remote areas of Iceland home to some rare species such as golden eagles, gyrfalcons, snow buntings, and red-throated divers.