Common Eider Somateria mollissima ©Jens Eriksen Website
Birding Greenland

Greenland is a member country of the Kingdom of Denmark located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically and ethnically an Arctic island country and geographically a part of the continent of North America, politically and historically Greenland is associated with Europe, specifically Iceland, Norway, and Denmark. In 1979, Denmark granted home rule to Greenland, making it an equal member of Rigsfællesskabet. Greenland is, by area, the world’s largest island that is not a continent in its own right.

The Atlantic Ocean borders Greenland’s southeast; the Greenland Sea is to the east; the Arctic Ocean is to the north; and Baffin Bay is to the west. The nearest countries are Iceland, east of Greenland in the Atlantic Ocean, and Canada, to the west and across Baffin Bay. Greenland is the world’s largest island, and is the largest dependent territory by area in the world. It also contains the world’s largest national park.The total area of Greenland measures 2,166,086 km² (836,109 sq mi), of which the Greenland ice sheet covers 1,755,637 km² (677,676 sq mi) (81%) and has a volume of approximately 2.85 million km3.[10] The coastline of Greenland is 39,330 km (24,430 miles) long, about the same length as the Earth’s circumference at the Equator. The highest point on Greenland is Gunnbjørn at 3,694 metres (12,119 ft). However, the majority of Greenland is under 1,500 metres (5,000 ft) elevation.

The weight of the massive Greenlandic ice cap has depressed the central land area to form a basin lying more than 300 m (1,000 ft) below sea level. The ice flows generally to the coast from the center of the island.All towns and settlements of Greenland are situated along the ice-free coast, with the population being concentrated along the Western coast. The northeastern part of Greenland, which includes sections of North Greenland and East Greenland, is not part of any municipality, but is the site of the world’s largest national park, Northeast Greenland National Park.

At least four scientific expedition stations and camps had been established in the ice-covered central part of Greenland (indicated as pale blue in the map to the right), on the ice sheet: Eismitte, North Ice, North GRIP Camp and The Raven Skiway. Currently, there is a year-round station, Summit Camp, on the ice sheet, established in 1989. The radio station Jørgen Brøndlund Fjord was, until 1950, the northernmost permanent outpost in the world.

The extreme north of Greenland, Peary Land, is not covered by an ice sheet, because the air there is too dry to produce snow, which is essential in the production and maintenance of an ice sheet. If the Greenland ice sheet were to completely melt away, sea level would rise by more than 7 m (23 ft) and Greenland would most likely become an archipelago.Between 1989 and 1993, U.S. and European climate researchers drilled into the summit of Greenland’s ice sheet, obtaining a pair of 3 km (2 mi) long ice cores. Analysis of the layering and chemical composition of the cores has provided a revolutionary new record of climate change in the Northern Hemisphere going back about 100,000 years and illustrated that the world’s weather and temperature have often shifted rapidly from one seemingly stable state to another, with worldwide consequences. The glaciers of Greenland are also contributing to global sea level rise at a faster rate than was previously believed. Between 1991 and 2004, monitoring of the weather at one location (Swiss Camp) found that the average winter temperature had risen almost 6 °C (11 °F).[15] Other research has shown that higher snowfalls from the North Atlantic oscillation caused the interior of the ice cap to thicken by an average of 6 cm/yr between 1994 and 2005.

  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • An Annotated Checklist to the Birds of Greenland

    By David Boertmann | Museum Tusculanum Press, University of Copenhagen | 1994 | Paperback | 63 pages, 1 map | ISBN: 9788763512251 Buy this book from

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Northeast Greenland

    InformationSatellite View
    The National Park in Greenland is an Arctic paradise and a wilderness with wildlife that cannot be matched in the inhabited areas of the country. Located in the north-eastern corner of the country, the park is larger than any other national park in the world. However, due to its size and relative inaccessibility it is not a national park in the traditional sense.
  • Protected Areas

    InformationSatellite View
    There are currently 12 protected areas in Greenland. The areas each have their own history and serve to protect unique landscapes or habitats for wildlife. It is possible to move about, fish and hunt in most of the protected areas. In some protected areas, there are restrictions on access and hunting and fishing in order to ensure the areas’ continued importance for wildlife.
Trip Reports
  • 2010 [08 August] - Chris Doughty - Spitzbergen, Greenland & Iceland Tour

    PDF Report
    …The birding was of great interest and just some of the many highlights included Red-throated and Great Northern Loons, Manx Shearwater, Leach's Storm-petrel, Pink-footed, Greylag and Barnacle Geese, Long-tailed and Harlequin Ducks, Purple Sandpiper, Red Phalarope, Great, Pomarine, Arctic and Long-tailed Skuas, Ross', Sabine's, Iceland and Ivory Gulls, Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, Black, Common and Brunnich's Guillemots and Snow Bunting. The mammals were just as interesting; and included Arctic Fox, Polar Bear, Walrus, Harp, Ringed, Bearded and Hooded Seals, White-beaked and Atlantic White-sided Dolphins, the critically endangered Bowhead Whale and the equally endangered Narwhal, plus Fin, Northern Minke and Humpback Whales, Musk Ox and Arctic Hare….
  • 2015 [06 June]

    PDF Report
    Although not reaching our intended destination further north due to unseasonal sea ice, we still had a thoroughly enjoyable cruise with highlights including multiple sightings of Humpback Whales, a very obliging Minke Whale and lots of birds including hundreds of Red-necked Phalaropes and superb views of White-tailed Eagle. All this coupled with a lot of good fun along the way.
Other Links
  • Studies of Migrating Birds in Greenland

    The Department of Arctic Environment of the Danish Environmental Research Institute works primarily with environmental studies and monitoring in Greenland. Its main objectives are to assess the potential environmental impact of mineral resource exploration and exploitation, and to suggest mitigative measures…

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