The area around Mývatn and the river Laxá is well known for its rich and diverse birdlife, particularly the abundance of ducks and other waterbirds. Fourteen species of duck breed here at a density virtually unmatched anywhere in the world.

Birdwatching by the lake is possible at any time of the year. In winter there are large open patches of water which are home to Whooper Swan, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Goosander and Mallard. The first migrants begin to arrive in April. The best time to visit the lake is in May and June, although there is a lot activity throughout the summer. 

Access to the north-west corner of the lake and surrounding wetlands is restricted in the breeding season, i.e. 15 May – 15 July. At this time of year the area around the bird museum and the adjacent bird hides are an ideal place to go birding.

Almost all the species of waterbird found in Iceland breed in the area around Mývatn and Laxá. The most common duck is the Tufted Duck, while Barrow’s Goldeneye, Greater Scaup, Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Teal and Red-breasted Merganser are also common. One of the best known Harlequin Duck colonies in the world is located where the river Laxá flows out of Mývatn. Whooper Swans and Greylag Geese are widely distributed around the lake in summer. Pink-footed Geese breed on the edge of the highlands to the south of Mývatn and in small numbers by the lake itself. There are several pairs of Great Northern Diver and Red-throated Diver in the area, and Red-necked Phalaropes are common. The lake also has the densest population of Horned Grebes in Iceland. Black-headed Gull and Arctic Tern are numerous and most species of wader, passerine and raptor found in Iceland are represented at Mývatn. Ptarmigan is common; there are several pairs of Gyr Falcon, a few pairs of Short-eared Owl and good numbers of Merlin.

At 2:00 p.m. every day, birdwatchers meet at the museum for coffee and to discuss what they’ve seen. There is a logbook at the museum where birdwatchers can record their sightings and find out what other people have seen.

You can see information about bird watching places in this video here on North East Iceland

All photographs on this page were taken by Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson


Fuglasafn Sigurgeirs ses, Ytri-Neslöndum, 660 Mývatn, kennitala: 521107-0300,
Sími 464 4477, tölvupóstur fuglasafn(hjá)