Iceland is often called a bird watcher's paradise. This activity has the advantage that it costs nothing once you have reached a bird watching spot. Large colonies and breeding grounds are found in various places throughout the country. Lake Mývatn, Látrabjarg in the West Fjords and the Snæfellsnes peninsula in the west are among the best places for bird watching in Iceland, while closer to Reykjavík, visits to the Reykjanes peninsula and the Westman Islands are always rewarding. For information about special bird tours with expert guides contact the tourist information offices. In total, 241 kinds of birds are known to have visited Iceland at one time or another. Of those, 72 nest regularly, 6 are common passage migrants, about 30 are regular migrants or winter visitors, while the rest end up in Iceland by chance. Sea birds, waterfowl and waders are the most common indigenous birds.
Iceland is one of the main breeding grounds for waterfowl in Europe and Lake Mývatn is renowned for its abundance of this type of bird. There are no fewer than 16 species of duck known to nest in Iceland, including two American species; Barrow's Goldeneye and the Harlequin Duck. Two nesting species and three passage migrants represent the geese. Iceland is one of the few places in the world where the Whooper Swan is still a common breeding bird. Its numbers are greatest on lakes bordering the central highlands.
The most frequently seen sea birds on the towering cliffs along the Icelandic coast are the Common Guillemot, Brunnich's Guillemot, the Razorbill, the Puffin, the Kittiwake, the Fulmar, and the Gannet. There is also the Arctic Tern which has the longest regular migration by any known animal. It breeds in Iceland during the summer months and returns to the Antarctic in the autumn.