Mykines is probably most famous for all its birds. And birds there are in thousands.
Probably the most famous and the one which on the Faroes is specific for Mykines, is the gannet, king among the Faroese birds. The most numerous are the fulmar, the puffin and the kittiwake
Below a list over some of the birds one can see on Mykines. It is by no means a list of all bird species one can see, but some of the most often seen.
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The Gannets on Mykines
The gannet is the king among the Faroese birds. The only place on the Faroes, where the gannets are breeding is on Mykines Holmur.
The gannet is a big and impressive bird. Around 180 centimeters in wingspan and weighing 3 to 4 kilos. They get their food by diving into the sea from 10 to 30 meters hight to catch small fish, coalfish among others but also cuttlefish. It is estimated that there are around 2500 breeding pairs on the shelfs on Mykines Holmur.
Strictly speaking is not only on the Holm that they are breeding. There are five or six pairs nesting on Mykines itself, on the northwestern corner of Mykines facing Holm Gjogv, the narrow sound separating Mykines Holmur from Mykines.
The Puffins on Mykines
The puffins, how dainty they ever are, have during generations been a substantial food supply for the inhabitants of Mykines.
They are caught in the thousands by the islanders by "fleygestang", a wooden rod with a net suspended between two smaller rods.
The puffins have had a very variated breeding success the last decade. There have been seasons with mass losses of not even full fledged young puffins.
The years 2005, 2006 and 2007 have been catastrophic with hardly any full fledged young puffin.
The breeding season 2008 was a little better, but quite long lasting, probably because of lack of food for the youngs. Normally the youngs are around 42 days in their nest, when food is plentiful. But 83 days have been observed, if the food supply has been scarcely. And in year 2008 young puffins were seen to the end of August, while in years where food supply is plentiful, almost all young puffins are fully fledged in the middle of August.
Voices af young puffins
The guillemots on Mykines
The guillemots are now only seen in a fraction of the numbers they were in for half a century or more ago. But they seem to have stabilised on lover number, maybe even a slight rise the later years. One now again hear their youngster's characteristic three tone calling even from Mykines village.
Black guillemots on Mykines
Black guillemots are seen daily on Mykines. They are nesting around the coast and often one hear their high pitch, most often as a warning signal.
The black guillemots have a very elaborate mating dance and it is said, that its duration is as long as the shift of the tide, almost 6 hours, where they swim around each other, now and then fly a little, then again swim around.
Black guillemot voices
The fulmars on Mykines
For a century ago the fulmar was seldom seen around the Faroes, but now it is among the most numerous, if even the most numerous bird on the Faroes. It can be seen all the year round.
The fulmar seems to be spending quite a lot of time flying back and forth in the upstreaming wind around the steep cliffs around the coast of all the islands of the Faroes, but even in the inland one see them and they even breed far away from the coast. They seem to be very curious birds and they will pass very close to You, if You are standing close to the edge of the steep cliffs.
The fulmar is caught as both young and adult and is very tasty, though quite fatty.
Follow the development of a young fulmar by the link below.
The kittiwakes on Mykines
The kittiwakes are breeding all around Mykines on the steep cliffs raising directly from the sea. They seem to have been steadily increasing in number during the last decades.
Arriving by the post boat Sulan to Mykines, one will in the breeding season be welcomed by a chorus of kittiwakes, nesting in the steep walls of Lendinger Gjogv, the little creek where the boat berth.
The kittiwakes mostly lay one egg, now and then two, but even tree eggs have been recorded. The breeding success is very variating. Some years apparently only very few birds succeed and in other years the success is overwhelming with more than one full fledged bird per nest in average.
The razorbills on Mykines
The razorbills are quite few in number around Mykines, but one will, looking carefully and paying attention to the differences from the guillemots, see them on a regular basis around Mykines.
The razorbills nests more solitarily than the guillemots in the steep cliffs around the island.
Picture of razorbills
The arctic terns on Mykines
The number of arctic terns has been steadily decreasing the last decades and now there is only a fraction of the former enormous colonies on Mykines Holmur.
The theories to explain this dramatic reduction are many, but probably it is a constellation of many factors.
But breathtaking it is to stand on the Holm and see the terns looking for nesting places and thinking of, that they have flown almost half the Earth around to come here to this little spot to raise the next generation.
Arctic tern voices
The starlings of Mykines
Starlings are seen in smaller or greater flocks all the year around on Mykines.
The starlings are breeding all around Mykines preferably in between the stones of the many stone fences, thus both on the Holmur and Mykines, where in former time these fences were the only means of guarding the grassing cattle from falling down the cliffs.
Voices of Starlings in summer
Voices of Starling in winter
The merlin on Mykines
The merlin is the only bird of prey breeding on the Faroes. It can be seen all the year round, probably benefitting on the starlings, which also are seen all the year. In January month for some years ago a dead one was found in the infield and in January and February 2002 one was seen both on the Holm and around the village.
Petrels on Mykines
One can see both Storm Petrels and Leach's Petrel on Mykines. Storm Petrels are the most numerous.
They are seen in the twilight, when they are coming in from the sea to their nests. They can even be seen now and then close to the village, but most numerous they are on Mykines Holmur.
Voices of Leach´s Petrel
Voices of Storm Petrels
Oystercatchers on Mykines
The Oystercatcher is the national bird of the Faroes. It is by tradition said to arrive at the 12. of march. But it is occasionally seen all the year around.
In the breeding season one can hear its sharp clipping voice, when flying around trying to frighten intruders to its territory.
Golden Plover on Mykines
There are not many Golden plovers on Mykines. One most often pay attention to them, hearing their fine melodious voice in the outfield.
Golden Plover voices
Whimbrels on Mykines
As the oystercatcher one cannot miss the Whimbrel when walking in the outfield. It has a fine warble, heard when it uneasy is flying around intruders to its territory.
The gulls on Mykines
There are a number and gulls on Mykines. Both as guests and breeding.
Daily one can see Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull.
Some of these have specialised in catching puffins and one can see them walking around in in the puffins nesting lands, looking for inattentive puffins.
Pictures of the gulls of Mykines
Arctic skua on Mykines
Both on the Holm and Mykines one daily sees the arctic skua.
The arctic skua is getting its food by hunting puffins in flight to get them throw their catch of small herrings or kittiwakes and arctic terns to get them vomit. When it is the puffin, the arctic skua often only manage to catch one of the herrings and the arctic terns take the rest.
Arctic skua voices
Great skua on Mykines
Both on the Holm and Mykines one daily sees the great skua.
The great skua is benefitting from the birds on the steep cliffs, taking eggs, living birds and carcass. They can also be seen hunting gannets in flight, trying to get them vomit.
Great skua voices
The Swifts on Mykines
The Swifts are not breeding on Mykines, but they can occasionally be seen flying low over the grass to catch insects. They are not seen every year.
Swallows and Martins on Mykines
Both Sand Martin, Swallow and House Martin can be seen on Mykines.
There have been attempts of the house martin to breed on Mykines in recent years and in 1999 a pair succeeded in bringing some youngsters to their wings.
Small birds on Mykines
How strange it appear, one can all the year around hear birds singing on Mykines. It is the Wren, the brother of the mouse, Músabróðer, as it is called in Faroese. It has a very strong and variated song. It is often seen jumping in and out among the stones of the many stone-fences seen in the village and in the outfield.
Other small birds often seen are House Sparrow, Wheatear, White Wagtail and Scandinavian Rock-Pipit.
Rock piper voice
Manx Shearwaters on Mykines
Manx Shearwater is not often seen, but using binoculars in the evening, looking out at the sea, one now and then will the small flocks in their characteristic flight, alternating from side to side, so one sees either their light coloured underside or their darker back.
They are nesting in small holes in the ground and only come ashore in the twilight. When it is foggy one most often hear their voice.
Voices of Manx Shearwater
Voices of two Manx Shearwaters sitting in their nest whole
Hooded Craw and ravens on Mykines
Both Hooded Craw and Ravens are seen all the year around on Mykines.
The Ravens one often pay attention to when one hear their melodious deep voice, which is very variated especially when they are together with other ravens.
They patrol the breeding places of the puffins and kittiwakes and if one sees the kittiwakes flying alarmed around their nests, it is often either a raven or a great skua on patrol for something to eat.
Hooded Crow voices
Shags on Mykines
Shags are seen daily, but they have remarkably decreased in numbers the last decades. But they now seem to have increased a little in number for the last couple of years. They are often seen on small rocks and skerries drying their wings.
Pictures of shags
The Geese on Mykines
Apart from the domesticated geese on Mykines, which can be seen in the outfields in summer and the infield in winter, one can see Greylag Goose, Pinkfooted Goose and Barnacle Goose on migration.
In the winter 2005 / 2006 two wild geese, a Greylag Goose and a Pinkfooted Goose, settled down among the domesticated geese and were quite tame, though a little more shy than the domesticated geese.
Pictures of geese
The Pigeons on Mykines
Small flocks of Rock-Doves can be seen all the year around on Mykines.
In the summer 2000 Collared Turtle-Dove have been seen in the village.
Pictures of Rock-Doves
Eider-Ducks on Mykines
The eider-ducks are seen regularly on Mykines. Usually in small flocks of both female and males. Now and then one hear the sonorous voice of the males, which is produced along with a characteristic movement of both body, neck and head, which in the end is pointing vertical, even sometimes backward.
It is often seen, that two or even more female eider-ducks are in common taking care of the ducklings, as in a kind of kindergarten.
Common Snipe on Mykines
Common snipes are seen every day in the breeding season on Mykines. Some year even all the year around, though the greatest number is seen in the summer. Many of the snipes have their nests in the infield just around Mykines village and one often from the village can hear their call but also often the deep vibrating sound which they make by diving from high altitude, spreading their tail feathers which then vibrate in the air passing the bird. One often can see and hear 2, 3 even 4 individuals in this way flying up and down just over the village.
The common snipe often let You come very close without You noticing them, before they suddenly go to their wings, making quite a noise both with their wings and by making their warning call.
Common snipe voices
Sandpipers on Mykines
Sandpipers can be seen all the year round on Mykines. For some years ago, a pair of Purple Sandpiber bred high in the outfields of Mykines. They can be seen both spring and autumn on their migration, mostly single or in small groups. Even in the middle of the winter they can be seen. They are very confident birds, which one often first pay attention to, when they very close to you, with a little whistle go on their wings.
In January 2007 a little group was often seen on the flat area, just before the stream falls down into the sea, close to the Landingplace. In the summer 2009 both Purple Sandpiber and Dunlin could be seen at the same place.
Pictures of Purple Sandpipers
Pictures of Dunlins
Turnstones on Mykines
Turnstones can be seen all the year round on Mykines. In the winter they most often are seen single or some few together in the grass in the infield. In the summer the flocks often are a little greater and can be seen on the bare rock on Holmen. A total of only 25 turnstones have been ringed in the Faroes since 1912. The third of July 2008 a ringed turnstone was seen on Holmen. Most probably it is ringed either in Canada or England. So the small birds come far and wide.
Pictures of turnstones
Migrating birds on Mykines
Every spring and autumn one can see different migrating birds on Mykines.
Some of the birds regularly seen and breeding on Mykines are then seen in greater numbers as the Mykines population of these birds is supplied by passers by. That is for instance the case with Wheatear, where some of the birds in the spring time are known to be on their way to Greenland, Canada and even Alaska from their winter districts in East Africa.
Spring and autumn redwings can be seen, probably on their way to and from Iceland.
Pictures of redwing
Rarities on Mykines
Now and then rarities are seen on Mykines.
The 12.th of July 2011 and for some days, a rose-coloured starling was seen. It is a seldom guest on the Faroes, seen with years in between. Last time it was seen on Mykines was in 1985, where it was seen just above the village. Normally the bird breed in India and stay for the winter in Italy. There have in former years been found some dead rose-coloured starlings at other places on the Faroes, among others on Sandoy. In July 2010 Red-necked Phalarope's were seen on Mykines. Red-necked Phalarope is an extremely interesting bird, where it is the females who are the most heavily stained and where it is the males who take care of the youngs. They spend the time outside the breeding season on the high seas. They have not with certainty been seen on Mykines before year 2010, but they are seen every year around the Faroe Islands, although in small numbers.
In October 2009 an Ortolan Bunting was seen and photographed on Mykines. Ortolan Bunting has only 2 times earlier been seen on the Faroe Islands. In May 2009 4 new species for the Faroe Islands were recorded. And two of these were recorded on Mykines.
The 15.th of May a Subalpine Warbler was seen and photographed. Again in spring 2011 a Subalpine Warbler was seen and photographed. The 17.th of May a Red-rumped Swallow was seen and photographed. It was seen for several days in the village. The 21.th of May 2009 a Rusting Bunting was seen and photographed. It is the first observation on the Faroes. Also the 21.th of May 2009, a Bluethroat was seen and photographed. It is seen on an irregular basis on the Faroes, but it is the first time it has been observed on Mykines. Other observations of birds seldom seen on Mykines The 7.th December 2007 a Peregrine Falcon was seen from Knukur, where it chased and was chased by three ravens. In January 2012, Peregrine Falcon was again seen on Mykines. Some days after, it was found dead. Later as it was stuffed, it was observed, that the chest was fractured, so probably the bird has hit a wire fence hunting for a starling.
The 10th and 25th of October 2005 a goldfinch was seen. It is one of the first recordings for The Faroes.
A stonechat was seen on Mykines on the 15.th of April 2003, which should be the first registration on Mykines since year 1909.
An exhausted osprey was found the 15.th of July 2003 in the northern part of the village. It died shortly after have been found. This should be the13.th registration of osprey on the Faroes since1850.
The 11.th of May 2003 and again the 5.th of July 2008, Mealy Redpoll was seen on Mykines. Almost every year they are seen on the Faroes, but they are only seldom seen on Mykines.
In June year 2000 a "tornhalesejler" was seen on Mykines for a couple of days. This should be the first time ever such a bird has been seen on the Faroes.
Seldom, with years in between, owls can be seen on Mykines. In spring 2000 a least a pair of owls could be seen.
Alpine Swift is, undocumented, reported in 1977.
It should also be mentioned that an albatross stayed with the gannets on Mykines Holm from 1860 to 1894. It was shut and the plumage send to The Zoological Museum in Copenhagen, where it still is. See the pictures by clicking here. A stuffed albatross can be seen at the Museum in Tórshavn. Read the interesting story about the "Gannet King" by clicking here.
Now and then there are invasions of birds not normally seen in either the Faroes or on Mykines. Probably they come because of strong easterly winds during migration.
In 1988 there was an invasion of crossbill and they were also seen on Mykines.
In year 2001 a few crossbills were seen on Mykines.
In year 2009 there again was an invasion of crossbills. The first were seen on Suðeroy in the end of June and a few days later they were also seen on Mykines, where small groups of up 5 individuals were seen, in the village, the infield and on Mykines Holm. The crossbills do not manage on the Faroes and starve to death. The last were seen on the Holm the 17.th of July.
Pictures of crossbills