BIRDS OF ICELAND : fulmar, Fulmarus glacialis

Fulmarus glacialis; Although fulmars resemble gulls they are not related to gulls. Instead the fulmar is a member of the petrel and shearwater group of birds. In fact they are more closely related to the albatrosses of the southern hemisphere than gulls. I have met many tourists who believed them to be gulls and even confuse them with kittiwakes! Closer inspection however show many differences. Ornithologists will readily show you the completely different beak of the fulmar, having a special tube on top for salt excretion. This is a petrel & shearwater feature. Their flight is typically a gliding style and except at take off they rarely ever flap their wings. They nest on all kinds of steep slopes where there are ledges and crevices. Although they are very much birds of seas and the Atlantic ocean they will breed from coast to relatively far inland wherever there are suitable breeding terrains. The English name fulmar and the official name fulmarus originates from an old Icelandic name fúlmár meaning foul gull. This is related to its nasty habit of regurgitating a stinking stomach oil when disturbed. However one can not but admire their elegant and seemingly effortless flight.

A brief introduction to Iceland birds
Text & Photographs by Dick Vuijk
- unless stated otherwise
Other petrel-related species and seabirds

Other petrel-related species and seabirds

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Natural History of Iceland Site  in Dutch

Natural History of Iceland Site  Dutch