Icelandic Arctic Tern Travels to Brazil Skip to content

Icelandic Arctic Tern Travels to Brazil

An Arctic tern which was banded at Bakkagerdi in Strandir in the eastern West Fjords in July 2009 as a chick has been spotted in Brazil—9,996 kilometers away from its birthplace. This is the first time an Icelandic tern has been found in South America.


An Arctic tern. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

The chick was banded by couple Jón Hallur Jóhannsson and Björk Gudjónsdóttir along with 290 other Arctic tern chicks in Strandir that year—143 of which came from Bakkagerdi. The couple have been involved in bird studies for decades, reports.

Bird banding is the method used for scientific studies on the travels of birds, their winter habitats, age, life expectancy, hunting strain, biological stock index, etc. so it is important that the bands are returned.

The discovery in Brazil was reported to the Icelandic Institute of Natural History. Very few Icelandic Arctic terns have been sighted abroad, only 15, and all but one were found in Western and Southern Africa.

This might be because the tern usually travels across the Atlantic without making stopovers on land; its winter habitat is in Antarctica.

The birds arrive in Antarctica from the east and it is possible that they fly nearly a full circle around the South Pole while they dwell there and begin their flight home in Weddell Sea in early March.

It is believed that the Arctic tern covers at least 40,000 kilometers between its nesting grounds and winter habitat and a longer distance if it flies around the South Pole.

Click here to read more about the travels of the Arctic tern.

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