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Water Rails in Iceland
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Water Rails Rallus aquaticus were once part of the Iceland breeding bird fauna. They bred at various marshes around the country, but somewhere around 1940 the population started to decline until it became extinct around 1965. The last nest was recorded in 1963. Since then Water Rails are observed annually, mostly in autumn & winter. These birds, probably Scandinavian migrants, come in the autumn with E/SE winds. 125 individuals were recorded in 1979-2006. Records of this species were first gathered in 1979, because of the extinction of the breeding population.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3


  • Figure 1 shows the distribution of records in Iceland, the circles representing different numbers of birds and the blue triangles records at sea.
  • Figure 2 shows the weekly distribution of records. Red columns show the week of discovery and the yellow columns all observations after the first week (for birds that are seen more than one week).
    R = number of records & F = number of birds.
  • Figure 3 shows the annual distribution of new records for the period mentioned.

    © Gunnlaugur Pétursson / Yann Kolbeinsson