Icelandic Christmas Bird Count

Iceland’s first annual Christmas Bird Count was held in 1952. The goal of this long-term project is to collect data on the numbers and distribution of birds in winter. Counts are standardised and can therefore be useful in monitoring individual bird populations.

The Icelandic Christmas Bird Count is one of the country’s longest-running wildlife monitoring programmes. It is inspired by and based on the American model. The Christmas Bird Count is the monitoring programme that covers the largest number of bird species in Iceland.

The Christmas Bird Count was quick to catch on among Iceland’s bird enthusiasts, and many of the original bird counters returned to their count locations year after year. Some participated in the programme for many decades. The Christmas Bird Count has been volunteer-run from the outset. Counts usually take place between Christmas and New Year’s.

In 1952, counts were carried out at 11 locations. By 1958, bird counts were taking place at 44 spots across the country. The number of count locations was rather slow to increase in the 1960s but has risen to more than 200.

The results of annual bird counts from 2012 to the present are available online in Icelandic.

IINH Contact: Kristinn Haukur Skarphéðinsson