Swans Freeze to Ice During Cold Snap

Residents in Hafnarfjörður, a small town just outside the capital area, have rescued multiple swans that have frozen to the icy surface of Hamarkotslækur creek during a recent spate of desperately cold weather in the country, RÚV reports. Local bird lovers in the group Fuglavinur (‘Bird friends’) encourage people to help any birds they see in such a predicament.

Swans freezing to ice is unfortunately not a rare occurrence, and it’s not even the first year the birds have frozen to the creek, which runs through the centre of Hafnarfjörður, says Guðmundur Fylkisson. Guðmundur is a member of the Facebook group Project Henrý, which has had permission to look after the birds of Hamarkotslækur for over a decade.

“Last night, a few neighbors rescued a chick—it was a swan,” Guðmundur told reporters. “Around Christmas, there were two swans [frozen stuck] here. About a year ago, maybe two, there was one that had been stuck for probably close to 24 hours.”

Young swan rescued by Guðmundur Fylkisson recuperates in local prison cell. Photo provided by Guðmundur.

Guðmundur personally freed the latter three birds, one of which, he told Iceland Review, “was put up in a prison cell over New Year’s. He was cold and worse for wear—ravens had started nibbling at him. After a two-night stay in the cell, he was tagged and then released. He’s one of the birds that’s now on the creek.”

Only in Hafnarfjörður

For whatever reason, this doesn’t happen to other birds, says Guðmundur. “It’s just the swans. I’ve never seen this happen to geese or ducks.” Moreover, this pitiable phenomenon seems to be restricted to the creek in Hafnarfjörður; Guðmundur says he’s never heard of it happening anywhere else.

Guðmundur urged residents to help any birds they can, as the swans only injure themselves when they struggle to get free. “When they get loose, they tear their feathers and bleed and when the blood and snow mix, it looks pretty bad,” he remarked. “They’ve injure their breasts doing this.”

‘They don’t bite hard’

Swans have a reputation for being aggressive, so Guðmundur understands that people might be hesitant to try and free them from the ice. But they needn’t be, he says, if certain precautions are taken.

“You have to be careful about their wings and beaks, that they don’t poke you in the eye, but they don’t bite hard. I usually just use a blanket or a towel and spread it over their wings to keep them from thrashing too much. They haven’t hurt me so far.”

Tesla Best-Selling Private Car in Iceland Last Year

Tesla electric cars were the best-selling passenger vehicle for individual consumers in 2022, RÚV reports. This is part of a larger pattern: more than half of new cars sold to individuals in 2022 were electric cars. Tesla did not, however, sell the most cars overall in Iceland. That distinction belongs to Toyota, although cars sold to rental companies accounted for 73% of its sales last year.

Changing patterns and incentives related to energy consumption have significantly shifted the automobile market in Iceland. According to María Jóna Magnúsdóttir, executive director of the Automotive Industry Association, last year was the seventh highest year for automobile sales in the country since 1972.

“It’s gone pretty well, in spite of great disasters around the world; car sales here have been good,” she remarked. “We’re naturally seeing a huge spike in the sale of electric cars, especially to individuals. They’re choosing electric cars just over 50% of the time.”

Toyota sold the most cars overall, Tesla the most cars for personal use

Just under 16,700 cars were newly registered in Iceland last year. Of these, 7,600 were rental cars.

Toyota is the foremost seller of cars that will be used on the rental market in Iceland. A total of 2,754 Toyota passenger cars were sold last year, the majority of which—or 1,440 cars—were intended as rentals. The remaining 739 Toyotas were sold to individuals.

The manufacturer that sold the second highest number of new cars in Iceland last year was Kia, with 1,800 cars sold. Hyundai was next, with just over 1,400 cars sold. Tesla came in fourth overall, with 1,300 cars sold.

However, if only car sales to individuals are considered, then the rankings shift in Tesla’s favor. Tesla sold 872 cars to individuals last year, followed by Toyota with 739, Kia with 717, and Hyundai with 502 cars sold for personal use. Tesla only sells electric cars, but it is not the only manufacturer that does. Toyota, however, has fewer electric options than its fellow brands.

Overall, nearly 5,600 electric cars were sold in Iceland last year. More diesel cars were sold in 2022 than in 2021 and 2020.

At-home charging only ISK 3 / km

Electric cars are commonly considered to be much cheaper to run and maintain in Iceland, not least because electricity is so much less expensive than petrol.

It’s been estimated that a five-person electric car costs roughly ISK 3/km [$0.021; €0.020/km] if it is charged at home. The price of domestic electricity in Iceland, including distribution charges, is estimated to cost roughly ISK 17 [$0.12; €0.11] per kilowatt-hour. It is more expensive to pay for electricity at fast charging stations and at so-called supercharger stations, though the charging process is, of course, much faster.