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Birdlife on Svalbard

The number of bird species on Svalbard may be somewhat limited compared to more southerly climes, but many of them visit in incredible numbers. This is particularly clear when you see thousands of seabirds nesting on a single bird cliff.

Birdlife on Svalbard

One of the most popular species, the Brünnich’s guillemot, has several colonies with over 100,000 nesting pairs. In the bird cliffs, the close symbiosis between life on land and at sea becomes more obvious, as you see bird after bird return home to their chicks with small fish and shellfish.

Most of the birds that nest on Svalbard migrate south in the late summer. Most of them spend the winter in regions with more comfortable climates and easily accessed food sources. The Svalbard grouse is the only bird that lives all year on land on Svalbard. Generally, only a very small number of eider ducks, long-tailed ducks and black guillemots stay for the winter, around the coast of Svalbard.

Here is an (incomplete) list of birds you can look for when visiting Svalbard:

  • Lesser auk(Alca torda)
  • Little auk (Alle alle)
  • Long-tailed skua (Stercorarius longicaudus)
  • Purple sandpiper (Calidris maritima)
  • Long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis)
  • Arctic Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)
  • Golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
  • Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis)
  • Common loon (Gavia immer)
  • Ivory gull (Pagophila eburnea)
  • Pink footed goose (Anser brachyrhynchus)
  • Black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)
  • Common huillemot (Uria aalge)
  • Atlantic puffin(Fratercula arctica)
  • Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
  • Pomarine skua (Stercorarius pomarinus)
  • Brünnich’s guillemot (Uria lomvia)
  • Glaucous gull (Larus hyperboreus)
  • Red phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius)
  • King eider (Somateria spectabilis)
  • Brent goose (Branta bernicla)
  • Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea)
  • Sabine’s gull (Larus sabini)
  • Common ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
  • Sanderling (Calidris alba)
  • Red-throated loon (Gavia stellata)
  • Snow bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis)
  • Great skua (Stercorarius skua)
  • Svalbard grouse (Lagopus muta hyperborea)
  • Black guillemot (Cepphus grylle)
  • Arctic skua (Stercocarius parasiticus)
  • Eider duck (Somateria mollissima)
What you should know
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