Faroe Islands

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus ©Jens Eriksen Website
Birding the Faroes

The Faroe Islands or Faeroe Islands or simply Faroe(s) or Faeroes are a group of islands in Northern Europe, between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. They have been an autonomous province of the Kingdom of Denmark since 1948.

The Faroe Islands are an island group consisting of eighteen islands off the coast of Northern Europe, between the Norwegian Sea and the north Atlantic Ocean, about halfway between Iceland and Norway; the closest neighbours being the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland. Its coordinates are 62°00′N 06°47′W. Its area is 1,399 square kilometres (540 sq. mi), and has no major lakes or rivers. There are 1,117 kilometres (694 mi) of coastline, and no land boundaries with any other country. The only island that is uninhabited is Lítla Dímun.The islands are rugged and rocky with some low peaks; the coasts are mostly bordered by cliffs. The highest point is Slættaratindur, 882 metres (2,894 ft) above sea level. There are areas below sea level. The Faroe Islands are dominated by tholeiitic basalt lava which was part of the great Thulean Plateau during the Paleogene period.

The climate is technically defined as Maritime Subarctic according to the (Köppen climate classification:Cfc). The overall character of the islands’ climate is determined by the strong cooling influence of the Atlantic Ocean, which here produces the North Atlantic Current. This, together with the remoteness of any sources of warm airflows ensures that winters are mild (mean temperature 3.0 to 4.0°C) while summers are cool (mean temperature 9.5 to 10.5°C). The islands are windy, cloudy and cool throughout the year with over 260 rainy days in the year. The islands lie in the path of depressions moving north eastwards and this means that strong winds and heavy rain are possible at all times of the year. Sunny days are rare and overcast days are common.

The natural vegetation of the Faroe Islands is dominated by Arctic-alpine plants, wild flowers, grasses, moss and lichen. Most of the lowland area is grassland and some is heath, dominated by shrubby heathers, mainly Calluna vulgaris. The Faroese nature is characterised by the lack of trees, and resembles that of Connemara and Dingle in Ireland and the Scottish islands. A few small plantations consisting of plants collected from similar climates like Tierra del Fuego in South America and Alaska thrive on the islands.

The bird fauna of the Faroe Islands is dominated by sea-birds and birds attracted to open land like heather, probably due to the lack of woodland and other suitable habitats. Many species have developed special Faroese sub-species: Eider, Starling, Wren, Guillemot, and Black Guillemot for example. The Pied Raven was endemic to the Faroe Islands, but has now become extinct.

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).

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 260 (Records) 40-50 Breeding Species

    National Bird - Oystercatcher (Tjaldur) Haematopus ostralegus
  • iGoTerra Checklist

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

  • Færøernes Fugle: Fakta og Tal (Birds of the Faroe Islands: Facts and Numbers)

    By Jens-Kjeld Jensen & Søren Sørensen | Forlagid Stoeplum | 2015 | Hardback | 363 pages, colour photos | Text Danish with English, Danish, Faroese and scientific nomenclature | ISBN: 9789991877068 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • The Faroese Bird Migration Atlas

    By Sjúrđur Hammer, Jesper J Madsen, Jens-Kjeld Jensen, Kjeld T Pedersen, Dorete Bloch & Kasper Thorup | Faroe University Press | 2014 | Paperback | 264 pages, colour & b/w photos, colour illustrations, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9789991865522 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Faroese Ornithological Society

    FOS Mission of the organisation Bird watching and protection of birdlife.

Abbreviations Key

  • Mykines

    InformationSatellite View
    his post is about Mykines, our favourite location in the mysterious North Atlantic archipelago we visited last summer. If you follow us on Instagram, you will have noticed we posted lots of pictures of birds and misty cliffs – this is Mykines, definitely a must-visit if you’re planning to head to the Faroe Islands!
Sightings, News & Forums
  • FaroeNature

    Everything about Faroese #nature including #ornithology #birdringing news #seabirds #cetaceans #Arctic #Atlantic
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Regent Holidays - Birdwatching in the Faroe Islands

    Tour Operator
    Offering a perfect breeding and nesting environment for migrating birds, the Faroe Islands become home during the summer months to puffins, plovers, sparrows, wild gees, storm petrels, ravens, crows, gannets, guillemots and the national bird of the Faroes – the oystercatcher.
  • Vestmanna Seacliffs Sightseeing

    Tour Operator
    When you are on a trip with our boats you can see the Faroe Islands from the inside in the various grottoes we are sailing into. You will also view the sea, the birds, and the cliffs in a different way…
Trip Reports
  • 2015 [09 September] - Arnaud Barras

    PDF Report
    Three Swiss birders, Arnaud Barras, Kilian Junker and Valentin Moser, birded the Faroe Islands at the end of September, from 22.09.15 - 30.09.15. The idea was, besides visiting a beautiful place, to check the potential of the Faroe Islands for WP-rarities. At least one Siberian vagrant was easy and found almost everywhere in suitable habitat: Yellow-browed warblers (YBW).
  • 2017 [07 July] - Matts Lindbladh

    PDF Report
    The trip was not mainly focused on birding, but on hiking and to experience the Faroe Islands in general. However, the Faroe Islands offer rather exciting birding and photo opportunities during breeding season, in spite of that there are surprisingly few reports available in English. Here follows a report from the summer of 2017 and some information and advices that might be useful.
  • 2022 [10 October] - Pete & Caroline Stevens - Newfoundland and Nova Scotia Cruise from UK taking in The Faroes, Greenland & Iceland

    PDF Report
    It arrived at The Faroes on the 15 September allowing a walk into surrounding countryside and a beer in the Capital Torshavn. Though we had no desire to visit The Faroes due to our feelings about the Faroees cetacean hunts, it was an opportunity not to be repeated and part of the cruise itinerary.
Other Links
  • Birdlife

    The remote location of the 18 islands constituting the Faroe Islands functions virtually as a magnet for birds migrating over the North Atlantic Ocean. The Faroes are exceptionally located for getting birds from the east, but several North American species have also been recorded at the Faroes. There is just a handful of local birders, so the chances of finding rare birds by yourself are very good.
  • Birdwatching in the Faroe Islands

    Thousands and thousands of puffins flying over your head; black sea cliffs painted white by the sheer number of birds breeding there; the constant and powerful roar of thousands of kittiwakes calling at the same time; the power of a gannet as it dives and penetrates the water like a torpedo in the hunt for fish. These are all but a few of the things you can experience when watching the birds of the Faroe Islands.
  • Silas Olofson - Birding Faroes

    Expect the unexpected! This is a blog about faroese birding. Big news and stories from the field will be told here. The Faroes Islands are a birders paradise – if you can handle the weather and the fact the birding is extremely weather dependent. The islands can be loaded with birds or they can be void and empty… But there is almost always something to see and the majestic scenery is always there!

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