Norway is a great place to watch birds, with diverse species observable in locations that are among the most beautiful places in the world. It is well worth making a birding outing part of any trip to Norway.
I am no expert on birds. But no matter, I have enjoyed many hours in the Norwegian countryside looking for, filming, and photographing birds.
Most of Norway is promising ground for bird watching. Even city dwellers in Oslo can find rich opportunities close at hand.
For someone like me who lives outside of Europe, even common birds in Norway are new and interesting. Coming from North America, very few of the birds I see in Norway are species I could ever see at home. I expect the same would be true for visitors from many other parts of the world.
On recent trips to Norway I had some luck birding in three different places:
The last two were birding sites I had researched online, while the first is an area where I was visiting family and decided to try my luck.
I expect what you see pictured in these pages is representative of birds you would be likely to see yourself in Norway. I don't claim to have seen rare birds, yet as a visitor from North America, they all were unusual to me!
I also tried the island of Runde, and Fokustyrma nature reserve near Dombås, both known birding areas. But I was in Norway at the wrong season for Runde (but see the Hiking section for a description of the island which is worth a trip for the view), and I encountered torrential rain at Fokustyrma which I did not have time to wait out. I hope to return with better luck on a future trip.
I chose the locations above not because they are the best in Norway, but because they were close to the route of my existing travel plan. You could likely do the same. Some of the web sites I have found most helpful to plan birding outings in Norway include:
If you really want a great reference to birding sites in Norway, considering buying a copy of Bjørn Olav Tveit's book, Guide til Norges fugleliv, De beste lokalitetene og mest ettertraktede artene (2010, published by Ørnforlag). The title translates to "Guide to Norway's birdlife, The best locations and most sought after species". After searching for some time for a book like this, I was delighted when I found it. I bought the Norwegian version but an English version is also available, A Birdwatcher's Guide to Norway, from the same author and publisher. You can learn more about it on the Ørnforlag website.
The Norwegian version has extensive listings of the best locations to visit, organized by region, with maps and GPS coordinates showing the location of each site, species found there, best time to visit, and other details such as lodgings nearby. I have not read the English version but expect it would be much the same. I bought the Norwegian text online at www.norli.no and had it shipped to me in the United States.
You should also look for one or more good guide books, and there are many field guides to birds that include the species found in Norway. The two books I use are Princeton Field Guides Birds of Europe (in English), and Aschehoug's Fuglebok (in Norwegian).
While the Princeton Field Guides book is a very comprehensive and compact english language reference, a Norwegian book like the Aschehougs Fuglebok is quite valuable. It will both tell you the Norwegian names for birds, and describe where in Norway they are found.
I have put together a list of Birds of Norway, showing the Norwegian, Latin, and English names for many of the birds found in Norway. What's more, all of the photos shown on this site list both the English and Norwegian names of each bird shown, so you can learn a little bit about what you might see even without a book.
Knowing the Norwegian names for the birds is a great help in discussing what you see with the locals and leveraging their knowledge. I have met a lot of friendly, helpful, Norwegians while out watching birds. While most Norwegians speak English, and do so very well, few of them would know the English names for most of the birds you could encounter... it's hard to have a conversation if neither of you knows what the other is talking about.
When bird watching I always bring some kind of camera or camcorder, not binoculars.
For me, much of the enjoyment of birding is in the challenge of capturing what I see on video or in a photo. I don't find it easy -- by the time the camera has been pointed the right direction, the bird often has flown off. It can be very difficult to follow a small, fast, moving bird among the trees, but when I succeed in capturing something interesting it's great. And the resulting footage or images provide a huge advantage to identify the species seen.
My own preference is to film birds with an HD video camera, as this captures a bird better than one or a few still photos could. It's true that the resolution of even an HD video image is lower than that of an SLR, but it captures the motion and sound as well and, in my case, I come away with a picture using my video outfit in cases where I don't believe I would with a bulkier SLR.
I used a Canon HV20, with a Canon 1.7X or Raynox 2.2X telephoto adapter, to capture most of the images shown here. These give magnification equivalent to a 35mm camera with a 600 mm or longer lens.