17 Interesting Birds That Live in Norway

Given its far-northern location, Norway might seem an unlikely paradise for birds. But the Scandinavian country has a highly varied geography, including mountains, lakes, fjords, thousands of islands, and the longest coastline in Europe. [1]

Owing to the gulf stream, the weather along its coast is also surprisingly mild.

Interesting birds that live in Norway include the Atlantic Puffin, the Arctic Tern, the Great Northern Diver, and the Little Auk.

Over 300 species of birds are native to the country, and seabird colonies along the Norwegian coast and the Varanger peninsula are popular bird-watching destinations. 

This article will list 17 of the most fascinating bird species native to Norway. 

Also, see 21 Interesting Mammals That Live in Norway to learn more.

1. Atlantic Puffin

Puffins are seabirds of the same family as Auks and Guillemots, many of whom are also found along the Norwegian coast. [2]

They are one of the most iconic Norwegian bird species, and the country is home to around 30% of the world’s Puffin population.

Atlantic Puffins spend most of their lives at sea, only coming ashore to breed.

In Norway, they can be spotted in large colonies on Runde island between March and September each year.

Ornithologists have estimated the Puffin population of the island at over 100,000. 

2. Fulmar

Fulmar is Norse for Foul Gull, a reference to the rancid gastric juice Fulmars spray in self-defense from a young age. [3]

Like Puffins, adult Fulmars stay far out at sea for most of their life and only come to shore to nest. 

They build their nests in large, densely-packed colonies, often on steep and inaccessible cliffsides. Fulmars have the northernmost range of any seabird.

In Norway, they can be found on Bjørnøya or Bear Island in the Svalbard archipelago. 

3. White-Tailed Eagle

White-Tailed Eagles are among the most majestic birds of prey. They are the largest predatory bird species in Europe and have the longest wingspan of any eagle anywhere.

Their wingspan can be as much as 25.4 in (60.6 cm) in male birds and even more in females. [4]  

4. Great Cormorant

Cormorants are prolific fish-eaters. They’re so good at it that people have used them to catch fish in cultures around the world for centuries. [5]

Today, the tables have turned. And in many places, including Norway, cormorants are taking a bite out of the local fishing industry’s catch.  [6]

5. Brünnich´s Guillemot

Brünnich´s Guillemots use more energy in flight than any other bird species in the world.

They are also excellent divers to boot and can reach as much as 500 ft (over 150 m) under the ocean’s surface, looking for the fish and crustaceans that make up their diet. [7]

Like many other birds on this list, Brünnich´s Guillemots make their nests in large colonies along near-vertical cliff faces.

Individual colonies can host over a hundred thousand birds, making them one of the most populous bird species in this part of the world.

6. Black Guillemot

Black Guillemots are strikingly attractive birds. They’re usually pitch black, down to their bills, and have white patches on the wings and bright red feet.

The further north their habitats, the more white their plumage tends to be. [8] And Norway has some of the northernmost populations of these beautiful birds.

7. Northern Gannet

Northern gannets have extremely streamlined bodies and excellent vision, which help them dive as far as 72 ft (over 20 m) under the sea to catch their prey. [9]

Like magpies, they have a habit of picking up assorted odds and ends to decorate their nests with.

8. Mute Swan

Although they’re common in many parts of the world now, where they’ve been imported as ornamental species, mute swans live in the wild in Norway.

They’re admired for their graceful long necks and famous for forming lifelong bonds with their mates.

But beware a protective swan parent; they can be ferocious in defense.

9. Great Northern Diver

Also known as the Common or Great Northern Loon, the Great Northern diver is the oldest bird species still in existence. It’s been around for around 20,000,000 years. [10]

Unusually for a bird, some of its bones are solid. This helps in adding weight when diving deep.

10. Stella’s Eider

The Stella’s Eider is a rare sea duck only found in the Arctic region. [11] Marked by striking patterns of black and white and soft orange down, diving flocks make for a thrilling sight.

They fly south to the Varanger Fjord in Norway during the colder months for some warmer weather.  

11. King Eider

With sizable oblong heads, bluish crowns, green crests, and an orange patch above their red bills, male King Eiders are captivating creatures.

Females are less colorful, as is the case with many bird species. They’re another Arctic species that can dive deep, often reaching as far as the seafloor. [12]  

12. Blacked-Legged Kittiwake

Kittiwakes are a common gull species named for their melodious song. They are an arctic species that spend much of their life at sea and only come ashore to breed.

Like many other sea birds on this list, they build their nests on cliff faces, although Kittiwakes can be found further inland than many of these other species.

13. Arctic Tern

Traveling between the two polar regions across the year, the Arctic Tern has the longest annual migration of any bird species in the world. [13]

They are estimated to travel almost 1.5 million miles (2.4 million km) over their lifetime. 

14. Snow Bunting

Among the northernmost land birds, Snow Buntings are hardy creatures that thrive in all but the iciest tundra.

They protect themselves by burrowing into the snow and have even been known to mate with other species of birds when mates are hard to find. [14]

15. Little Auk

Little Auks are small seabirds that live in large colonies that can number in the millions. They dive for prey and fly fast, although usually low and in a straight line.

Little Auks also have pouches in their mouths for carrying fish back to their young. [15]

16. Arctic Skua

Arctic Skuas are aggressive seabirds that have a well-earned reputation for thievery. By some accounts, they make up to 95% of their diet by thieving from other birds.

And while bird eggs are a favorite, Skuas have been known to prey on other bird species too. [16]

17. Ptarmigan

A relative of the Grouse, the Ptarmigan is called a Croaker in Gaelic, a reference to the bird’s call.

Males are usually white through the winter but molt and turn a mottled brown in summer, just in time for mating season, when they perform elaborate rituals to attract mates. [17]  

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Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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