Birds of Spitsbergen

Antarctic Peninsula

Region: Arctic

Destinations: Svalbard

​The huge bird cliffs along the Spitsbergen coasts are a major attraction. Spitsbergen is a breeding ground for large numbers of seabirds that feed in the food rich Arctic waters. During the summer period the steep bird cliffs throng with thousands of seabirds.

Brunnich’s and Black Guillemot, Northern Fulmar and Kittiwake prefer the steep ledges in order to stay out of reach of predators such as the Arctic Fox. Arctic Tern, Ringed Plover, Purple Sandpiper and four species of skua stay down at the tundra where they depend on their camouflage or aggressive behaviour.

On top of the list of many birders are the rarely seen, elusive gulls - Ivory, Sabine’s and Ross’s. Although the first two are frequently spotted in the far north of Spitsbergen, the Ross Gull is very rarely seen.

Arctic Tern

Spitsbergen is home to one of the world’s best long distance travellers, the Arctic Tern. They arrive in mid-May after a 20,000 km. (12,000 mile) journey from the Southern Ocean, spend about three months in the islands, and then return to their wintering grounds at the other side of the world.

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