Keep in mind that approaching the edges of cliffs can be very dangerous. Beware, for puffins are not the only birds that call Flatey Island their home. There are four species of Puffin, though only the Atlantic variety travels to Iceland. Please always show the birds respect and remember that they are wild animals, not pets. Over the years, population numbers have been dropping drastically. With tractor rides included, a local resident will take you to the best puffin watching spots found in the area. Even if the site is open to visitors, please do not approach the birds closely. Spring is on the horizon in Iceland, heralding the return of the Atlantic Puffins. The Atlantic Puffins that summer in Iceland nest within coastal cliffs across the country. Touching them destroys the special water-deflecting properties of their feathers. While Atlantic puffins do not always mate for life, they are generally monogamous once they’ve found the love of their birdie lives. Are they endangered? Puffin wings can beat up to 440 times per minute. Other countries where puffins live include Greenland, Canada, UK, Faroe Islands and Norway. All Rights Reserved. The colony has thankfully recovered fully since then thanks to hunting bans. Giving any bird food that they are not used to threatens to damage their digestive systems, as well as instil bad habits. Counting puffins. Named after Iceland’s first settler, Ingólfr Arnarson, this natural paradise is home to seabirds, including Arctic Skuas and Puffins. Atlantic Puffins are instantly recognisable thanks to their colourful bills, reminiscent of cockatoos or penguins. If you are taking a puffin watching tour, make sure to always choose a reputable vendor who has the puffins’ best interests at heart. Over the years, population numbers have been dropping drastically. There are four species of Puffin, though only the Atlantic variety travels to Iceland. Read on to find out how to see Atlantic Puffins during your trip to Iceland. The puffin we have here is the Atlantic Puffin and we have 60% of the worlds population breeding on our rocky shores! The male Atlantic puffin builds the nest and exhibits strong nest-site fidelity. There are a number of places on the island where plenty of Atlantic puffins can be seen. Find out more in the complete guide about traveling during the Midnight Sun in Iceland. Some places are easily accessible and you could simply drive yourself to the destination without the need to take a tour. Northern Lights in Iceland | The Complete Guide, A Complete Guide to the Weather in Iceland. It’s recommended to add further accessories, including gloves, scarves and a woolly hat. Dyrhólaey promenade is found along the south coast of Iceland. Puffin tours are offered by various companies all over Iceland. Iceland is home to some of the most amazing bird life, and a nesting site for the largest puffin colony in the world. Iceland is the world's puffin capital for sure! Even the predatory Arctic foxes are unable to reach their cliffsides nests, providing the freedom that has bolstered bird populations in the area for decades. Puffins nest in clifftop colonies. Trophy hunters paying to shoot 100 puffins at a time during trips to Iceland. Arctic terns are very common and very territorial, often swooping down on tourists who have unwittingly wandered too close to their ground-level nests. At the end of the breeding season, their feathers will change color from white to dark grey. Pufflings often need rescuing after their first attempt at flight fails. Learn all about whales in Iceland. Due to the lack of cement roads in the region, much of this journey will be on rough backroads. The island is circled by high cliff sides that make perfect summer homes for migrating puffins. (Other species include the Rhinoceros Auklet, the Horned Puffin and Tufted Puffin.) The island is just 1.2 miles long and has only six year-round residents, according to Guide to Iceland, though it tends to attract more visitors who have houses there in the summer. The nature reserve is located on the northernmost tongue of the Westfjords. Iceland is home to over half of the world’s Atlantic puffin population, with colonies found everywhere—from the rugged sea cliffs in the south to the remote islands of the Westfjords. Puffins developed their unique appearance over millions of years of evolution. There are about 10 million adorable puffins in Iceland and they are often seen casually walking around when in season. Dyrhólaey and Látrabjarg, two of the most popular birds watching spots in Iceland, are easily accessible by car. Both the male and female puffins share responsibility, taking turns to incubate the egg. In previous decades, it was normal for puffins to leave for the open ocean by August. Win! But how does this cute creature manage such an incredible feat? In 2018, BirdLife International declared the Atlantic puffin in danger of extinction. They tend to be monogamous and return to the same nesting site each year to lay a single egg. The Atlantic Puffin is a unique species of seabird whose population is on the decline in some parts of the world. Puffins breed in colonies on coasts and islands; several current or former island breeding sites are referred to as Puffin Island. That’s an insane amount of birds in one place. Aside from that, the scenery is incredibly dramatic and unhampered by modern infrastructure, creating a lush paradise at the edge of the world. Like so many other parts of the planet, climate change and human disruption are having an impact even on the remote Westman Islands and the puffin population is showing the strain. You can reach the Westman Islands either by domestic flight from Reykjavik or by travelling on the ferry, Landeyjahöfn. The global population of the Atlantic puffin is in decline. Luckily, Iceland is one of the best places to see puffins as it is home to the largest colony of puffins in the world, and over half of the world’s population nest here each year. The tour runs between May and August each year, departing from the capital’s quintessential Old Harbour. There is even a live bird video stream available from Borgarfjarðarhöfn. 7 Profound Puffin Facts. The ability to see so many different types of birds in one spot is highly unusual. The best way to support Iceland’s puffins directly is to ensure you are doing your part to protect the environment. It is the only puffin native to the Atlantic Ocean; two related species, the tufted puffin and the horned puffin, are found in the northeastern Pacific. When there are many tourists gathered together, they can sometimes stray onto the dangerous ground without knowing it. When is the best time and where are the best places to find puffins in Iceland? These birds here trust humans more than in other places, perhaps because they don’t meet many humans and have been pestered by them less. Because of this dazzling feature, the species’ nickname is ‘Sea Parrot’ or ‘Clown of the Sea’. Finally, you could support a wildlife charity with financial donations. Some estimates suggest Norway has around 30% of the world’s Atlantic Puffins. Therefore, if you step on their nest and it collapses, you will have ruined a home that they may have been using for years or even decades. Flatey is a stunning little island found in Breiðafjörður, between the Snæfellsnes peninsula and the Westfjords. Puffins separate from one another during their time spent out at sea. Another island nearby equally known for its Puffins is Akurey. The islanders are famous for their working relationship with another bird species; the Eider Duck. After breeding, all three puffin species winter at sea, usually far from coasts and often extending south of the breeding range. Uniquely in the world, you have a more than 90% chance of seeing whales around Iceland! Read more: Most of Iceland’s seabird populations are in dire trouble and have been for years Iceland is home to one of the world's largest colonies of puffins Over half of the world´s population of the Atlantic Puffin breeds in Iceland, somewhere between 3 - 4 million pairs each year. A team of biologists is currently travelling around Iceland to conduct a population count. Often, word of mouth is the best means of persuading others as to how essential environmental conservation is in our modern world. Iceland is home to over half of the world’s Atlantic puffin population, with colonies found everywhere—from the rugged sea cliffs in the south to the remote islands of the Westfjords. When in flight, things are often more complicated. These cliffs play host to up to 40% of the entire worldwide population of some birds, making them vital for the survival of entire species. Among these are short boat tours, day trips, and multi-day tours that include puffin watching along with visits to other sights, often including additional exciting activities as well. You can reach Flatey Island by taking the ferry from Stykkishólmur town. Every five years, the island rangers undertake a full puffin census to count these comical seabirds. Petting or feeding a puffin is the worst things you can do to them. Climate change and human fishing activity seem to be factors in the bird’s population decline. To add a motion-blur as you capture Puffins in flight, you can try keeping your shutter speed between 1/1000 and 1/1600 of a second. The population of tufted puffins has decreased dramatically at Haystack Rock and is in significant decline or has disappeared entirely from colonies in California, Oregon, Washington, Japan and the Gulf of Alaska. Finally, sharing your experience with friends is a great way to spread the word about how special Atlantic Puffins really are. This is even more dangerous when you are so close to the thrilling edges of cliffs. 24 May 2018. image copyright PA. image caption Puffins are known as the "clowns of the sea" due to their colourful beaks. Puffins served as a vital food source for locals in this harsh climate throughout the centuries. This sentiment goes equally for at home as it does abroad. While Atlantic Puffin breeding colonies are mostly in Iceland (60% of the world’s population) they are also found in Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Norway and Greenland. Big 7 Travel , a website that provides city guides, has released a list of the top 50 islands in the world for 2019. The Atlantic puffin breeds in Iceland, Norway, Greenland, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and the Faroe Islands, and as far south as Maine in the west and parts of Great Britain in the east. The Atlantic Puffins at Látrabjarg show hardly any fear of humans. When watching these birds in the while, you must never try to touch them, their burrows or their eggs. Climate change and human fishing activity seem to be factors in the bird’s population decline. The Atlantic puffin travels to land in the summer to nest during the warmer months. Thanks to how incredibly cute and funny they are, puffin watching has become one of the top summer activities for visitors to Iceland. This culinary tradition is centuries old and made up a vital source of protein for Icelanders throughout history. Two bad years. Over half of the world’s population of Atlantic puffins breeds in Iceland, or some 8-10 million birds. Below, we have listed some of the most highly praised locations for Puffin watching in the country. Maybe you’ve heard of a cute little bird dubbed “the clown of the sea.” If so, you’re probably thinking of adorable puffins! While most puffin watching places on the mainland are accessible by car, Ingólfshöfði and Hornstrandir, which are located in nature reserves, are notable exceptions. Enthusiastic photographers will jump at the chance to capture both landscape and wildlife pictures while at Dyrhólaey. Iceland is home to more than 60% of the Earth's entire Atlantic puffin population, with anywhere from 8–10 million puffins inhabiting the island. There are 3 Puffin species in the world: The Tufted and Horned Puffins of the Pacific Ocean and our Atlantic Puffin. The Atlantic puffin is the most instantly recognisable and popular of all North Atlantic seabirds. You can often see these birds soaring past, or bobbing by, as you take the Sæfari ferry from Dalvik. This preparation is especially true for birdwatchers, who spend much of their time beside cliffs and the windy oceanside. We have the largest Atlantic puffin colony in the world, more than half the population comes to Iceland to nest in June, July and August. Icelandic waters are some of their favorite areas to live, thanks to the advantageous location and natural assets. Some even say the bird could be extinct within the next hundred years if dramatic steps are not taken. They are, however, considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of nature. When at the bird cliffs, emulating a nature photographer is your best bet. The Atlantic Puffin is most commonly found on the Westman Islands, Iceland. Puffins spend most of the year out at sea, resting on the waves. Even though it is quite a long drive to Borgarfjörður, it is probably the place where you will be able to see the puffins with most ease and safety. The country is home to more than 60% of the Earth's entire Atlantic puffin population, with anywhere from 8–10 million puffins inhabiting the island. For the best photographs, try to isolate and keep the animal in focus, utilising the country’s epic scenery for your backdrops. The Atlantic puffin is protected in the UK but it remains legal to hunt the bird in Iceland. During early August to September, children stay out late to patrol the streets, shoebox in hand, in search of puffins hoping to be rescued. The junior puffins find themselves distracted by the city lights and end up on the asphalt or in gardens. This is the best time to experience the birds and wildlife of the bay and islands just off the coast of Reykjavik. If you have snacks on hand, make sure to keep them to yourself. Thankfully, their new role as the island’s most recognisable mascot attracts thousands of visitors a year. It is an isolated headland surrounded by black sand dunes. From atop the promenade, you will be in for fantastic views over the black shorelines of the south. Here are the best options. It is the most numerous bird in Iceland, with a population estimated at 8-13 million individuals and a breeding population … This enjoyable hike will not only provide you with a closer view of these adorable creatures, but also the chance to hear stories about local life on the island. Iceland is, in fact, home to sixty percent of the world’s Atlantic Puffin population: over six million individuals. Whatever region you’re staying, if you’re close to the ocean, there’s always the chance of spotting Puffins going about their daily lives. The fact that they nest in the same places they were born, and only nest when there are other puffins around, means that certain places in Iceland are undoubtedly the best in the world for this special kind of birdwatching. Whales are among the most enigmatic and fascinating creatures on our planet. And, if you want to go Puffin watching, a summer road trip in Iceland is a great opportunity to see them from a … Read on to find out the answers to these questions and more! Visitors are especially recommended to visit the Stórhöfði lookout, which promises excellent views of puffins. Hence, the island is considered a gem for nature lovers and bird watchers alike. Even with the fence, the birds are easy to observe as you can get within a few meters of them. Even though the seabirds seem plentiful, the country's puffin population has been declining dramatically. In many places around Iceland, puffin burrows can be seen with the naked eye, either from viewpoints or hiking trails. Aside from clothing, handy field guides can often be purchased from Visitors Centres around the island. All the same, the Icelandic government is currently reviewing laws regarding the hunting of puffins, with results expected in spring 2020. This is due to decreasing populations and the ever-present threat of human activity. Dyrhólaey is a massive stone arch surrounded by a black sand beach. Twenty percent of the world’s puffin population nests in the Westman Islands every year, so these islands are home to the single largest puffin colony in the world! Luckily, Iceland is one of the best places to see puffins as it is home to the largest colony of puffins in the world, and over half of the world’s population nest here each year. Iceland is home to more than 60% of the Earth's entire Atlantic puffin population, with anywhere from 8–10 million puffins inhabiting the island. The operation is run by volunteers (the ‘Puffin Patrol’) who are passionate about conserving Iceland’s birdlife. She loves to inspire others to get to know Iceland and to make a deep connection with the country during their travels. Iceland is the home to one of the world's largest colonies of puffins. The sheer quiet and solitude of the nature reserve is the ideal location to combine hiking with bird watching. Wooden platforms and shelter have been built to allow you to get really close to the puffins without risking falling into a burrow or down a cliff. It is believed that the total population of the puffin is around 14 million and the largest puffin colony can be found in Westman Islands in Iceland. This destination is a must-visit, regardless of the season. Norway has the next largest Atlantic Puffin population, with several large colonies. Puffin tours by boat in Iceland are a popular choice, adding a touch of adventure to the experience. Last year BirdLife International declared the Atlantic puffin in danger of extinction. Puffins are Iceland‘s most popular bird for a reason. About 2,5 hours drive from Reykjavík, near the village of Vík, lies the famous black sand beach which is one of the highlights of South Iceland. Hornbjarg and Hælavíkurbjarg, in the eastern part of the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, are another famous puffin nesting place. Also known as the common puffin, the species has breeding grounds all over the Arctic Circle and the North Atlantic. Iceland is known as a great destination for seeing puffins, in fact, the population is estimated at between 8-10 million. There are more reasons to visit Látrabjarg Cliffs than just the puffins who live. With their orange legs, striped colorful beak, and black and white plumage, these small birds are adorably cute. For this reason, the site is sometimes closed to visitors to limit the puffin’s exposure to humans. Iceland’s economy relies on its beautiful nature and pure coastal water, so all guests should strive to respect and care for the land just as much as locals do. With its green and gentle slopes, Grímsey Island is 40 kilometres from the northern shores of mainland Iceland. Regular boats travel to these islands from the town of Stykkishólmur on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Puffins in Iceland. Their nesting area, made up of deep burrows dug in the grass close to the edge of the cliff, is fenced off both for their peace and for the safety of visitors. The bird watching spot is not accessible for those who drive a normal car. The puffin population in Iceland is somewhat recovering, reports Morgunblaðið newspaper. Over half of the world’s population of Atlantic puffins breeds in Iceland, numbering some 8-10 million birds. On Seal Island, a national wildlife refuge 20 miles offshore that's home to about 1,000 puffins, only 31% of the laid eggs produced fledglings, down from the five-year average of 77%. Hunting puffins has caused population issues among colonies, but these have since recovered and are considered sustainable as of 2020. Approximately 5.7-7.3 million pairs of Puffins breed in Europe. Guided hiking tours to Hornstrandir are offered with a departure from Ísafjördur town. It then takes off for the open ocean, where it will remain until the summer of the next year. Entertainment guaranteed! There are many different ways to spot puffins during your travels in Iceland. is a travel writer from England who now lives in Reykjavík, Iceland. Where is the Best Place to See Puffins in Iceland? Between the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and the Westfjords lies Breiðafjörður, home to countless tiny islands. The people of Iceland have made use of birds in various ways for hundreds of years although the consumption of bird meat and eggs is almost certainly declining these days. Iceland’s largest puffin colony, with over 1.1 million birds, lives in the Westman Islands, just 6.2 mi. Boats used specifically for puffin tours are often small vessels with quiet motors so as not to disturb the nesting birdlife. They will return to this same burrow every year. Other birds that can be seen nesting on Grímsey Island, including kittiwake, razorbills and northern fulmar. It is often recommended to keep low to the ground and leopard-crawl so as not to frighten the birds. You can find guided puffin watching tours all over Iceland. You can take tours of Vigur Island by leaving from Ísafjörður town. Puffins are Iceland‘s most popular bird for a reason. Their rough and tumble landings only add to their reputation as being somewhat clumsy aviators. Puffins are sometimes referred to as “Sea Parrots” or “Clowns of the Sea.” About 60% of the world’s Puffin population live on or near Iceland. All of this together makes these cliffs an amazing opportunity to take close-range photographs of a large variety of birds. Látrabjarg is the most visited attraction in the Westfjords and deserves all of the recognition it receives. Even though the seabirds seem plentiful, the country's puffin population has been declining dramatically. Puffins are monogamous, they mate for life. Heimaey, meaning "Home Island”, is the largest island in the archipelago. An adventurous activity such as this is also a great way of spotting other birdlife, and even seals sunbathing on the island’s bays. For this reason, local children will patrol the streets in their neighborhood with boxes to collect any lost birds so that they be returned to the wild. The meeting point is 1.24 mi. The Westman Islands can also be reached by using the regularly scheduled ferry. Iceland tour operator seeks to raise awareness about the threats faced by puffins. However, biologist Erpur Snær Hansen claims the population in the Vestmannaeyjar islands, south Iceland, is still in free fall. With a large part of this population walking almost hand in wing with humans during the summer season, it is definitely something Icelanders are proud of. The puffin is a rather small bird, around 26-29 cm long and weights around 450-500g. It breeds in the North Atlantic and the adjacent Arctic Ocean, with strongholds in Iceland and Norway, with around 10% of the population breeding around Britain and Ireland, where it … The best place to see puffins on Flatey is by walking to the northern edge of the island, a little way out of town. This will cause the least harm to the animals you are observing. A few kilometers from Vík is Dyrhólaey, a massive stone arch surrounded by a black sand beach. Puffin parent collecting dinner for its chick. Vigur is only 2 kilometres long, with a narrow width of 400 metres. He and a half-dozen other men have traveled to Iceland’s far north from the Westman Island of Heimæy (population around 4,500), about 10 kilometers off Iceland’s south coast. That means the effects could trickle down to other puffin populations in the coming years. Watch them motionlessly and enjoy. The Atlantic puffin is a seabird from the auk family. Guided tours are offered twice daily at the location during the summer. If you choose to partake in a whale-watching tour during the summer, there is an excellent chance you will see puffins as part of your journey. (Other species include the Rhinoceros Auklet, the Horned Puffin and Tufted Puffin.) The nature reserve can only be accessed by first taking a boat and then exploring on foot. The Puffin Rescue Centre, part of the Sea Life Trust Beluga Sanctuary in the Westman Islands, offers a close-up look at these magnificent birds all the year-round. The birds were killed for meat and their eggs were collected while their feathers were plucked and used in bedding. The Farne Islands are among the best places to see one of the nation’s favourite birds – the puffin. After this period, the young puffling is considered fully grown, or fledged. Puffins are more than capable of feeding themselves—these birds are fully matured after six weeks—so they do not need the charity of tourists. Puffins have been hunted by man for centuries. Atlantic Puffins are seen in Iceland between April and September each year. Copyright © 2020 Traveo Ehf. Those looking for a more personal experience can also take a walking tour on the island. The team has found that active nests in South Iceland are up by 15 % compared to last year. Foreign objects left behind by visitors may be mistaken for food, which again, is liable to hurt the birds. Perhaps most notably, Iceland’s Westman Islands are also the location of the largest puffin colony in the world, at least for the time being. Puffins help to make up the 1,000,000 birds that congregate on Grímsey each season. Populations in the south and west have plunged, and the eastern colonies are shrinking. Aside from getting lucky, the most definitive means of ensuring a sighting is with a guided wildlife tour. Given Iceland’s unpredictable weather conditions, it’s always best to pack away thick clothing layers, ever during the summer. In total, 60% of the world’s Puffin population (8-10 million) nest in Iceland during the summer. In previous years, the number of pufflings checked and measured has exceeded 5000. The puffin we have here is the Atlantic Puffin and we have 60% of the worlds population breeding on our rocky shores! Iceland is home to around half of all the world’s puffins. There are fantastic 2-3 km hiking trails at Ingólfshöfði, many of which can be walked as part of a guided tour of the area. What makes the puffin special is the colourful, flat-sided beak. Like so many other parts of the planet, climate change and human disruption are having an impact even on the remote Westman Islands and the puffin population is showing the strain. Gems of Iceland, or some 8-10 million birds, lives in Reykjavík, Iceland to. And our Atlantic puffin ’ s migratory habits, supporting International charities is just as worthwhile supporting. 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