Discovering Swedish Birds: A Birdwatcher’s Ultimate Guide



No Comments

Sweden is a haven for a diverse array of bird species. This Scandinavian nation offers an exceptional birdwatching experience, drawing enthusiasts from around the globe to explore its rich avian diversity.

Contents show

Birdwatching, or birding, is more than a hobby; it’s a way to connect with nature and understand the intricate web of ecology. The variety of birds in Sweden reflects the country’s diverse ecosystems, ranging from dense forests to extensive wetlands and rugged coastlines. Observing these Swedish birds brings joy and peace and provides valuable insights into the health and changes in our natural environment.

Sweden’s geographic position and varied habitats make it a crossroads for birds. Native species thrive year-round, while migratory birds add a seasonal dynamism to the birding scene. Whether you’re a seasoned birder or a curious beginner, the experience of birdwatching in Sweden is both enriching and engaging, offering a unique window into the wonders of the natural world.


  • Sweden’s diverse landscapes offer a unique birdwatching experience across different habitats.
  • Iconic birds like the Eurasian Eagle-Owl and Common Crane symbolize Sweden’s rich avian diversity.
  • Seasonal changes in Sweden provide varied birdwatching opportunities throughout the year.
  • Beginners can easily start birdwatching in Sweden with basic equipment and local exploration.
  • Sweden has numerous birdwatching hotspots, each offering unique bird species and experiences.
  • Conservation efforts in Sweden play a critical role in protecting diverse bird species and their habitats.
  • Engaging with Sweden’s birdwatching community enhances the birding experience through shared knowledge and activities.

The Geographical Diversity of Sweden and Its Impact on Swedish Birds

Sweden’s geographical diversity is a canvas painted with a multitude of habitats, each playing a pivotal role in shaping the country’s rich birdlife. From the deep green forests of the north to the expansive coastlines of the south, every landscape offers a unique home to a variety of bird species.


The vast boreal forests, primarily in Northern Sweden, are a stronghold for a range of forest birds. Here, amidst towering conifers and ancient birches, species like the Siberian Jay and the Three-toed Woodpecker thrive. These forests provide not just a sanctuary for birds but also a serene birdwatching experience, where the sounds of birdsong echo through the dense woodland.


Rising above the tree line, the Swedish mountains create an entirely different habitat. This rugged terrain, with its rocky outcrops and alpine meadows, is the realm of birds like the Dotterel and the Snow Bunting. These species are adapted to the harsher conditions at higher altitudes, and their presence adds a special allure to the mountainous regions of Sweden.


Sweden’s numerous lakes and wetlands are hotspots for bird diversity. These aquatic ecosystems attract a myriad of waterfowl, waders, and migratory birds. The haunting call of the Common Crane at Lake Hornborga, a renowned birdwatching site, is a testament to the vital role these wetlands play in the lives of birds. The interplay of water and land creates a dynamic environment where birdwatchers can witness a diverse range of behaviors and interactions.


The extensive Swedish coastline, especially in the south, is a magnet for seabirds. Here, one can observe gulls, terns, and eiders against the backdrop of the Baltic Sea. The rocky islands and archipelagos serve as breeding grounds for many seabird species, offering birdwatchers a chance to observe their nesting and foraging habits.

Urban and Agricultural Landscapes

Even Sweden’s urban and agricultural landscapes play a significant role in supporting bird species. Parks, gardens, and farmlands often host a variety of birds, including the Eurasian Tree Sparrow and the Common Swift. These environments remind us that birdwatching can be accessible and enjoyable even outside of wilderness areas.

Iconic Birds of Sweden

In the vibrant tapestry of Swedish birdlife, certain species stand out for their unique characteristics and the special place they hold in the hearts of birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. These iconic birds, each with its own story and charm, are emblematic of the diverse avian world of Sweden.

Bird SpeciesHabitatNotable Characteristics
Eurasian Eagle-OwlRocky outcrops, forestsLarge size, piercing eyes, deep hoots
Common CraneWetlands, open fieldsElegant dance, haunting call, migratory
Arctic TernCoastlines, islandsLong migration, agile, summer visitor
European KingfisherRivers and streamsBright blue and orange plumage, fish hunter
Willow WarblerWoodlands, gardensGreenish-yellow, melodious spring song

The Majestic Eurasian Eagle-Owl

The Eurasian Eagle-Owl is a symbol of power and grace in the Swedish skies. As one of the world’s largest owl species, it commands attention with its impressive wingspan and piercing eyes. These owls are often found in rocky outcrops and forested areas, where their deep hoots echo through the night. Spotting an Eagle-Owl, especially during dusk or dawn, is an unforgettable experience, offering a glimpse into the nocturnal side of Sweden’s birdlife.

The Elegant Common Crane

The Common Crane is a bird of beauty and poise, known for its spectacular mating dance and haunting call. These large, graceful birds can be seen in the wetlands and open fields of Sweden, particularly during their migratory stopovers. The sight of cranes performing synchronized dances in the early morning light is a highlight for any birdwatcher and a testament to the intricate behaviors in the bird world.

The Hardy Arctic Tern

The Arctic Tern is a marvel of endurance and resilience. Known for its incredible migratory journey, covering distances from the Arctic to the Antarctic, this small but formidable bird is a frequent summer visitor to Sweden’s coastlines and islands. Watching an Arctic Tern dive into the sea for fish is a captivating sight, showcasing the agility and adaptability of these seabirds.

The Playful European Kingfisher

The European Kingfisher, with its vivid blue and orange plumage, adds a splash of color to the Swedish rivers and streams. This small, yet striking bird is often seen perched on branches near water, ready to dive in for a catch. The Kingfisher’s presence along the waterways brings a sense of vibrancy and life, making it a cherished sight for bird enthusiasts.

The Melodious Willow Warbler

The Willow Warbler, although less conspicuous than some of its iconic counterparts, holds a special place for its melodious song that heralds the arrival of spring. These small, greenish-yellow birds are found in woodlands and gardens, filling the air with their sweet tunes. The Willow Warbler reminds us of the quieter, yet equally captivating, members of the bird community.

Seasonal Birdwatching in Sweden

Sweden’s changing seasons bring a dynamic rhythm to the world of birdwatching, with each period offering its own unique experiences and opportunities to observe different bird species. From the vibrant bursts of spring migration to the quiet, snowy landscapes of winter, birdwatchers can enjoy a variety of avian spectacles throughout the year.

Spring: A Time of Arrival and Renewal

Spring in Sweden is a period of awakening and transformation. As the snow melts and the days grow longer, the air fills with the songs of birds returning from their wintering grounds. This is the time to witness the grand migration, with species such as the Barn Swallow and the Common Chiffchaff making their way back to their breeding territories.

Forests, meadows, and wetlands come alive with nesting activities, offering birdwatchers a chance to see courtship displays, nest building, and the arrival of new fledglings.

Summer: The Peak of Activity

Summer is the season of abundance. With the landscape in full bloom, birdwatchers can enjoy long daylight hours observing a wide range of species in their full breeding plumage. The Midnight Sun in the north of Sweden provides an extraordinary backdrop for birding, where one can enjoy the sights and sounds of birds like the White-throated Dipper and the Red-throated Diver under the ethereal light of the late-night sun. Summer is also an excellent time to explore the coastal areas and islands, where seabirds such as terns and gulls are busy raising their young.

Autumn: The Spectacle of Migration

As the leaves turn golden and the air becomes crisp, autumn ushers in another spectacular phase of bird migration. This is a period of change and preparation, with birds like geese and cranes gathering in large flocks to begin their journey south. Wetlands and lakes become staging areas for these migrating birds, providing birdwatchers with awe-inspiring sights of mass gatherings and the chance to spot a variety of species congregating together.

Winter: A Quieter, Yet Enchanting Season

Winter in Sweden offers a serene and starkly beautiful birdwatching experience. While many species have migrated to warmer climates, hardy residents such as the Great Spotted Woodpecker and the Northern Bullfinch remain. Winter birding requires patience and resilience, but the rewards are plentiful, with the possibility of spotting rare visitors from the north, such as the Snowy Owl, against the picturesque snowy landscapes.

Birdwatching for Beginners in Sweden

Embarking on the journey of birdwatching in Sweden is an exciting and rewarding experience, especially for beginners. With its diverse range of habitats and abundance of bird species, Sweden offers an ideal setting for novices to learn and indulge in the joys of birding. Here are some tips and insights to help beginners get started on their birdwatching adventure.

Getting Equipped: The Basics

Before setting out, it’s important to have the right equipment. A good pair of binoculars is essential for clear and close-up views of birds. Choose a pair that is comfortable to hold and provides a wide field of vision. Additionally, a field guide to birds of Sweden, preferably with illustrations and descriptions, is invaluable for identifying different species and learning about their habits and habitats.

Best Times for Birdwatching

Timing can significantly enhance your birdwatching experience. Early morning is generally the best time for birding, as this is when birds are most active. However, different species have different peak times, so some flexibility can be helpful. Also, be aware of the seasons; spring and autumn migrations offer a chance to see a greater variety and number of birds.

Where to Start

Begin in your local area – parks, gardens, and nearby nature reserves are great places to start observing common bird species. This not only helps you practice bird identification skills but also builds an understanding of bird behavior in familiar settings. As you gain confidence, you can venture to more diverse habitats like forests, lakes, and coastal areas.

Learning to Identify Birds

Start by observing common features such as size, shape, color, and behavior. Pay attention to distinctive markings, calls, and songs. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t identify every bird; even experienced birdwatchers encounter challenges. The key is to enjoy the process of learning and observing.

Birdwatching Etiquette

It’s important to respect nature and wildlife. Keep a safe distance from birds to avoid disturbing them, especially during nesting season. Be mindful of the environment by staying on designated paths and leaving no trace of your visit.

Joining a Community

Consider joining a birdwatching group or participating in guided walks. Many local birding clubs and nature centers offer outings that are beginner-friendly. This is a great way to learn from more experienced birders and to share experiences with others who have similar interests.

Embracing the Experience

Remember, birdwatching is as much about enjoying the outdoors and connecting with nature as it is about the birds themselves. Be patient, stay curious, and embrace the peaceful moments and small discoveries along the way. Each birding experience is unique, and even the simplest observations can be deeply rewarding.

Birdwatching Hotspots in Sweden

Sweden, with its varied landscapes and rich birdlife, boasts numerous hotspots that are a must-visit for birdwatchers. From the northern wilderness to the southern coasts, these areas offer some of the best opportunities to observe a wide array of bird species in their natural habitats. Here are some of the top birdwatching locations in Sweden, each offering a unique experience.

Ottenby Nature Reserve, Öland

Located on the southern tip of the island of Öland, Ottenby Nature Reserve is a renowned birdwatching destination. This area is particularly famous for its bird observatory, which has been operational since the 1940s. The reserve is a key stopover for migratory birds, making it an excellent spot for observing a variety of species, especially during spring and autumn migrations.

Lake Hornborga, Västergötland

Lake Hornborga (Hornborgasjön) is one of Sweden’s most famous bird lakes, known particularly for the thousands of cranes that gather here during their annual migration. The spectacle of these cranes dancing and calling creates an unforgettable experience. Besides cranes, the lake attracts numerous other waterbirds and waders.

Tyresta National Park, Stockholm

Just a short distance from Stockholm, Tyresta National Park offers a pristine forest environment that is home to a variety of bird species. The park’s diverse habitats, including ancient forests and lakes, make it an ideal spot for birdwatching. Species such as the Black Woodpecker and the Eurasian Pygmy Owl can be spotted here.

Getterön Nature Reserve, Halland

Getterön, located near Varberg on the west coast, is one of Sweden’s premier birding sites, especially for seeing seabirds and waders. The area boasts excellent facilities for birdwatchers, including hides and information centers. The variety of habitats in the reserve supports a rich diversity of bird species throughout the year.

Stora Alvaret, Öland

Stora Alvaret on Öland is a unique limestone plain known for its distinctive flora and fauna. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and provides a habitat for rare bird species, making it a fascinating destination for birdwatchers. The open landscape allows for easy viewing of birds such as the Montagu’s Harrier and the Eurasian Skylark.

Svartådalen, Västmanland

Svartådalen (The Black River Valley) in central Sweden is celebrated for its rich birdlife and beautiful natural scenery. The area’s wetlands, forests, and meadows attract a variety of birds, including owls, woodpeckers, and raptors. Birdwatchers can enjoy guided tours and stay in local accommodations tailored for birding enthusiasts.

Falsterbo Peninsula, Skåne

The Falsterbo Peninsula, located at the southwestern tip of Sweden, is a renowned spot for observing migratory birds, particularly during the autumn. The peninsula’s geographic position makes it a natural funnel for birds traveling south, offering a spectacular display of migration. It is also a great place to see a variety of raptors and seabirds.

Conservation Efforts and Bird Protection in Sweden

Sweden’s commitment to conservation and the protection of its bird species is a testament to the country’s dedication to preserving its natural heritage. The efforts to safeguard bird populations and their habitats are integral to maintaining the ecological balance and ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy the rich diversity of birdlife. This section highlights the key initiatives and practices in place to protect birds in Sweden.

National Parks and Protected Areas

Sweden boasts an extensive network of national parks and protected areas, which play a crucial role in bird conservation. These areas provide safe havens for birds, allowing them to breed, feed, and migrate without the pressures of habitat loss or human interference. Efforts are continually made to expand and manage these protected areas, ensuring that they cater to the needs of various bird species.

Legislation and Policies

Sweden has robust legislation in place for the protection of wildlife, including birds. Laws such as the Swedish Environmental Code and the Nature Conservation Act regulate activities that may affect bird populations, such as hunting and land use. These laws are complemented by Sweden’s adherence to international agreements like the EU Birds Directive, which aim to protect all wild bird species in Europe.

Research and Monitoring

Research and monitoring are key components of bird conservation in Sweden. Organizations and universities conduct studies to understand bird populations, their behaviors, and the challenges they face. Bird observatories and ringing stations across the country contribute to this effort by tracking bird migrations and population trends, providing valuable data for conservation strategies.

Community Involvement and Education

Community involvement and education are vital for the success of conservation efforts. Many nature reserves and birdwatching sites in Sweden offer educational programs to raise awareness about bird species and their habitats. Engaging the public, especially the younger generation, in birdwatching and conservation activities fosters a sense of stewardship for the environment.

Collaboration with Conservation Organizations

Sweden collaborates with various national and international conservation organizations to protect its avian biodiversity. Partnerships with groups like BirdLife Sweden and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) help in implementing conservation projects, habitat restoration, and advocacy work. These collaborations bring together expertise, resources, and a shared passion for protecting birds.

Sustainable Practices and Habitat Restoration

Promoting sustainable practices and restoring habitats are essential for bird conservation. Efforts such as reforestation, wetland restoration, and the creation of bird-friendly environments in urban areas contribute to providing safe and suitable habitats for birds. These actions help mitigate the effects of environmental degradation and climate change on bird populations.

Engaging with the Birdwatching Community in Sweden

Connecting with the birdwatching community in Sweden can greatly enhance your birding experience. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, engaging with fellow bird enthusiasts offers opportunities for learning, sharing, and enjoying the camaraderie that comes with this shared interest. Sweden’s birdwatching community is welcoming and diverse, providing various avenues for involvement and interaction.

Joining Birdwatching Societies and Clubs

Sweden is home to several birdwatching societies and clubs that welcome members of all skill levels. Organizations like BirdLife Sweden (Sveriges Ornitologiska Förening) play a significant role in uniting birdwatchers, conducting conservation work, and organizing events. Joining these groups is a great way to meet like-minded individuals, participate in birding activities, and contribute to bird conservation efforts.

Participating in Guided Birdwatching Tours

For those new to birdwatching or looking to explore new areas, guided tours can be invaluable. These tours are often led by experienced birders who can provide insights into local bird species, habitats, and the best spots for birdwatching. Guided tours are available across Sweden, catering to various interests and skill levels, from beginners to advanced birders.

Birdwatching Events and Festivals

Sweden hosts a variety of birdwatching events and festivals throughout the year. These events are perfect for immersing yourself in the birdwatching culture, learning from experts, and experiencing the joy of birding with a community. Festivals like the Falsterbo Bird Show and activities during the spring and autumn migrations are highlights of the birdwatching calendar.

Online Communities and Resources

The digital age has made it easier to connect with the birdwatching community. Online forums, social media groups, and websites are excellent resources for sharing sightings, asking questions, and staying updated on birdwatching news in Sweden. Websites like Artportalen (Species Observation System) allow birders to record and share their observations, contributing to citizen science and bird monitoring efforts.

Volunteering for Conservation Projects

Volunteering for bird conservation projects is a rewarding way to engage with the birdwatching community. Many nature reserves and conservation organizations in Sweden welcome volunteers for various activities, including habitat restoration, species monitoring, and educational outreach. This not only helps in the conservation efforts but also builds a deeper connection with the natural world and the birdwatching community.

Local Birdwatching Spots and Nature Centers

Visiting local birdwatching spots and nature centers is another way to engage with the community. These places often serve as meeting points for birdwatchers, offering opportunities to exchange tips, share experiences, and observe birds together. Nature centers in Sweden also host workshops and talks, providing educational and networking opportunities for bird enthusiasts.

Building a Supportive and Inclusive Community

The birdwatching community in Sweden is known for its supportive and inclusive nature. It welcomes everyone, regardless of their level of expertise or background. Engaging with this community is not just about birdwatching; it’s about building friendships, learning, and working together towards a shared passion for birds and nature.

Related: New to Sweden: Your Guide to Thriving as a Newcomer in 2024

Additional Resources

  • “Birds of Sweden”: This comprehensive guide offers detailed information on the bird species found in Sweden, including identification tips, habitat descriptions, and behavioral notes. It’s an essential resource for both beginners and experienced birdwatchers.
  • “The Complete Guide to Birds of Europe”: Although covering a broader area, this guide is valuable for understanding the birds you might encounter in Sweden, including migratory species.
  • “Birds of the Nordic Countries”: This book is particularly useful for understanding the regional differences and similarities in bird species across the Nordic countries, including Sweden.
  • Artportalen (Species Observation System): This online portal is a fantastic resource for tracking bird sightings across Sweden. It allows birdwatchers to log their observations, contributing to citizen science and providing a real-time overview of bird activity in different areas.
  • BirdLife Sweden’s Website: Offering news, articles, and information on bird conservation and birdwatching events in Sweden, this website is a hub for those interested in the Swedish birdwatching community and conservation efforts.
  • The Swedish Ornithological Society (Sveriges Ornitologiska Förening): Their website provides resources on birdwatching locations, guides, and the latest research on birds in Sweden.
  • Merlin Bird ID: An app by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, it helps in identifying birds through photos or descriptions. It’s a user-friendly tool for beginners to learn about birds they encounter.
  • eBird: This global birding app allows you to record your bird sightings, contributing to a worldwide bird observation database. It’s also useful for finding popular birding hotspots in Sweden.
  • BirdNET: An app that uses audio recognition to identify bird calls, which can be particularly helpful in identifying birds by their songs and calls in the Swedish outdoors.
  • Virtual Birding Tours: Various websites and organizations offer virtual birding experiences, which can be a great way to familiarize yourself with Swedish bird species and their habitats before venturing into the field.
  • Birdwatching YouTube Channels and Podcasts: There are numerous channels and podcasts dedicated to birdwatching in Sweden and the Nordic region, offering insights, tips, and experiences from fellow bird enthusiasts.
  • Social Media Groups and Forums: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit have active birdwatching communities where members share sightings, photos, and engage in discussions about birds in Sweden.

Many local libraries and educational institutions in Sweden offer resources on ornithology and natural history. They can be excellent places to find books, documentaries, and even attend lectures or courses on birdwatching and conservation.


Sofia is our Relocation Expert, who brings first-hand experience in moving to Sweden from abroad. She moved to Sweden over a decade ago and navigated the complexities of relocation herself.

Leave a Comment