Bird of Prey

Often I get the question why there are no birds of prey on Spitsbergen. And indeed, there are no eagles, falcons or owls at all on the archipelago (apart from the occasional one that gets lost). Strange indeed, as at the bird cliffs there should be enough food for them during summer to sustain a healthy population. These Glaucous Gulls (and the several species of skuas) can also make a good living at that location, so that should not be the problem.

Glaucous Gull on a small iceberg


Then why don’t we have any birds of prey here? The answer might be very simple: maybe they just didn’t get there. Spitsbergen is just a small archipelago far away from other populations and a migratory route might just not have been established.

I don’t think these Glaucous Gulls really mind. They have happily taken this niche and can live without the competition.

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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