BIRDS OF ICELAND : Pinguinus impennis, great auk

Pinguinus impennis; If you go to Iceland you will not see the great auk. In fact no one today will ever see the great auk alive anywhere because it is extinct!. However Iceland has a special link to this bird. It was on the island of Eldey where in the 19th century ship-wrecked Icelandic fishermen killed the last ever seen living individual. Given the situation these men were in, they killed it in order to stay alive themselves. This large bird was a seabird that was unable to fly! As such, its life style was much more like the southern Hemisphere penguin species than any bird in the northern hemisphere. Also its Latin name reveals the superficial relationship to the penguins of today. Its inability to fly and the spread of a species named Homo sapiens sealed its fate like the Dodo.

  Back to general list of all birds (entries start)

  Back to home page

A brief introduction to Iceland birds
Text & Photographs by Dick Vuijk
- unless stated otherwise

 An upright standing bird - drawing showing the degenerate wings
 Another drawing of an upright standing bird
 Drawing of a swimming Great Auk
 Reload first photo of a stuffed bird at the Natural History Museum at Reykjavik

 drawing of an upright standing Great Auk
 another drawing upright standing bird
 drawing of a swimming Great Auk
 reload first photo
 Press on photo for full size

Natural History of Iceland Site   Dutch