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In the Faroe Islands there are currently about 110 different species of birds although, including vagrants. During the last 150 years, over 260 species have been recorded. There are about 40 common breeding birds, including the seabirds fulmar (600,000 pairs), puffin (550,000 pairs), storm petrel (250,000 pairs), black-legged kittiwake (230,000 pairs), guillemot (175,000 pairs), Manx shearwater (25,000 pairs).

Symbolically, the most important of the birds of the Faroe Islands is the Eurasian oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus). Their annual arrival on about 12 March is celebrated by the Faroese people as the start of spring. For this reason, the tjaldur (pronounced [ˈtʃaldʊɹ]), is recognised as the national bird of the Faroes. However, in numbers, the avifauna is dominated by an estimated two million pairs of breeding seabirds of several species. There are also some resident landbirds and many regular visitors, both passage migrants and breeders, as well as several species recorded occasionally as vagrants, mainly from Europe. The Faroese postal system, the Postverk Føroya, prints stamps portraying Faroe birds. See external links.

History

In the 19th century, the islands were occasionally visited by black-browed albatross; one bird regularly summering with gannets for 34 years before it was shot for the Natural History Museum in Copenhagen. The great auk also visited the Faroes and may have bred there, but became extinct throughout its range in the North Atlantic in the early 19th century due to human predation. The pied raven, a colour morph of the common raven, also occurred but disappeared by the middle of the 20th century.

Historically, harvesting seabirds for food was an important source of nutrition for the islanders. A reduced and strictly regulated harvest, mainly of fulmars and puffins, continues. In general, the seabirds and their nesting areas are now strongly protected.

List of birds

The most common birds are listed with their Faroese names too.

Anseriformes

Anatidae

Galliformes

Tetraonidae

Phasianidae

Gaviiformes

Gaviidae

Podicipediformes

Podicipedidae

Procellariiformes

Diomedeidae

Procellariidae

Hydrobatidae

The European storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus), or drunnhvíti, can be best observed in Nólsoy in the biggest colony of the species in the world.
  • European storm petrel (drunnhvíti) - breeding with 250,000 pairs, most of them to be observed from August to November
  • Leach's storm petrel (sýldur drunnhvíti, havtyrðil) – breeding with 10,000 pairs

Suliformes

Sulidae

The gannet (Morus bassanus), known as súla, is the biggest bird in the Faroe Islands.

Phalacrocoracidae

Pelecaniformes

Ardeidae

Threskiornithidae

Accipitriformes

Pandionidae

  • Osprey (fiskiørn) – vagrant

Accipitridae

Falconiformes

Falconidae

The merlin (Falco columbarius subaesalon), known as smyril, is the only bird of prey of the Faroes.

Gruiformes

Rallidae

Gruidae

Charadriiformes

Haematopodidae

Recurvirostridae

Charadriidae

Scolopacidae

The common snipe, mýrisnípa in Faroese, has a local sub-species Faroese snipe (Gallinago gallinago faeroeensis)
The whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus), known as spógvi, which comes in the early summer and leaves the Faroes in August to Africa and Southern Asia.

Stercorariidae

Laridae

The Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea), is known as terna in Faroese. Note to pronounce it [ˈtɛdna], because a [ˈtɛrna] is a stewardess.

Alcidae

The guillemot (Uria aalge) is very common and known as lomviga. The Faroese used to eat it.

Pterocliformes

Pteroclidae

Columbiformes

Columbidae

Cuculiformes

Cuculidae

Strigiformes

Strigidae

Caprimulgiformes

Caprimulgidae

Apodiformes

Apodidae

Coraciiformes

Coraciidae

Upupidae

Piciformes

Picidae

Passeriformes

Alaudidae

Hirundinidae

Motacillidae

Bombycillidae

Cinclidae

Troglodytidae

Prunellidae

Turdidae

Corvidae

The common raven has a sub-species North Atlantic raven (Corvus corax varius) and is known as ravnur. In Faroese National symbolism, it is the counterpart of the oystercatcher and standing for the Danish Monopol Trade.

Acrocephalidae

Phylloscopidae

Sylviidae

Regulidae

Muscicapidae

Laniidae

Emberizidae

Calcariidae

Fringillidae

The starling has a Faroese sub-species (Sturnus vulgaris faeroensis), which is bigger than other starlings in Europe. The people's friend is called stari in Faroese.

Ploceidae

Sturnidae

Oriolidae

Places

Just at the road: Bird cliffs of Suðuroy.

Excellent places for watching seabirds (guillemots, kittiwakes and puffins are common everywhere) including:

  • Svínoy with many great skuas
  • The Vestmanna cliffs with a boat tour
  • Mykines has the only Faroese population of gannets
  • Nólsoy has the largest colony of storm petrels in the world
  • Skúvoy with the largest Faroese colony of guillemots and lots of great skuas, which gave the island its name
  • Suðuroy has at the west coast the best accessible bird cliffs from the land side

See also

References

  • Williamson, Kenneth. (1970). The Atlantic Islands. Collins: London. (2nd edition). ISBN 0-7100-6911-1

External links