The Sigurgeir's Bird Museum at Mývatn - Breeding Birds in Iceland

I have written several travel-blogs on my favourite place in Iceland, the amazing Mývatn area, but there is so much to see and do there that I will be adding a couple of more tips on Mývatn.

At Mývatnyou can see bubbling mud pools, walk on the rim of a crater filled with a lake, see beautiful lava pillars and amazing lava formations, bathe in the Blue Lagoon of the North, visit geothermal springs, visit the Cave of the Icelandic Yulelads etc, etc.

The Sigurgeir's Bird Museum at Mývatn - Breeding Birds in Iceland

By Lake Mývatn you can also find the largest private bird collection in Iceland at the Sigurgeir's Bird Museum or "Fuglasafn Sigurgeirs Stefánssonar" in Icelandic. Here you can find specimens of all the Icelandic breeding birds, bar one.

Sigurgeir Stefánsson was born and raised at Mývatn. He was an avid bird and egg collector and he owned a large collection of stuffed birds. He kept his collection in a shed at Ytri-Neslönd, where the museum is located, and people visited the shed to have a look at his collection.

​​​​​​The Sigurgeir's Bird Museum at Mývatn - Breeding Birds in Iceland

It was jokingly said that this must be the smallest natural museum in the world. Sigurgeir's dream was to erect a bigger building to house his collection. But a tragic accident took place when he drowned in Lake Mývatn at age 37 before he could realize his dream.

Sigurgeir had collected around 180 species and 300 specimens of birds plus some 100 types of eggs when he died.

Sigurgeir's friends, family and benefactors helped make his dream come into fruition and in August 2008 an extraordinary beautiful museum was opened on the farm Ytri-Neslönd by Lake Mývatn, a lovely tribute to Sigurgeir, the avid bird collector.

The Sigurgeir's Bird Museum at Mývatn - Breeding Birds in Iceland

The architectural design of the museum building itself is beautiful and it blends in with nature. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a good photo of the design of the museum, but you can see it on the museum homepage.

The bird museum is interactive and the curator of the museum enters the area of the bird collection with you and explains how it works. The museum is small and round with an artificial stream flowing under glass on the floor with fish swimming in the stream.

The Sigurgeir's Bird Museum at Mývatn - Breeding Birds in Iceland

I lost myself amongst all these birds. I have always wanted to know more about birds and spent a good hour inside taking in all the information and admiring these beautiful birds. While visiting this museum I realized that I knew way too little about the birds here in Iceland. 

I have seen the puffin many times and the seabirds and migrating birds, the ptarmigan and from time to time an owl and a merlin. And my main enemy here in Iceland is the Arctic tern, which fearlessly attacks me again and again on my travels through my country. But I am thirsty for more knowledge on the birds here in Iceland.

The Sigurgeir's Bird Museum at Mývatn - Breeding Birds in Iceland

What I found to be especially useful was to be able to compare the sizes of the birds. The big difference in the size of birds that I had thought were approximately the same size came as a surprise to me. One cannot really see the size of the birds in the bird handbooks, so seeing them here closely together was very useful.

There are so many birds here at the museum, all of them with their name listed in several languages and their whereabouts in summer and winter. You can press buttons which activate lights to show where the appropriate bird is located. I pressed all the buttons in the museum for sure, as I was very eager to learn more about the birds. 

The Sigurgeir's Bird Museum at Mývatn - Breeding Birds in Iceland

Sigurgeir also collected birds eggs and there is a large egg collection at the museum. I couldn't for the life of me get a decent photo of the eggs, but you can see lovely photos on the homepage of the museum.

The birds missing to complete Sigurgeir's exhibition on breeding birds in Iceland is the sea-eagle and the grey phalarope. But Akureyri town was friendly enough to lend the bird museum a sea-eagle.

The museum is right by the lake and from the museum restaurant, there are great views of Lake Mývatn. And if you are an avid bird watcher there are bird hides available for bird watching. 

The Sigurgeir's Bird Museum at Mývatn - Breeding Birds in Iceland

Lake Mývatn is the 4th largest lake in Iceland, 36.5 km2, with some 40-50 small islets and skerries. It is said that nowhere else on earth as many duck-species gather as at Mývatn. The birdlife here is very diverse - you will find lake and marsh birds in abundance, including at least 14 species of ducks.

Lake Mývatn is a protected nature reserve, and here by Lake Mývatn and in its surrounding areas is f.ex. the only breeding place for the Barrow's goldeneye in Europe.

I visit Mývatn every year and am always on the lookout for new duck species.

The Sigurgeir's Bird Museum at Mývatn - Breeding Birds in Iceland

Next to the bird museum, you will find a is a boathouse museum with the motor-boat Sleipnir on display. There one can get an insight into what life was like by Lake Mývatn. 

The museum received the Innovation Prize of 2009 by the Icelandic Travel Industry Association.

By the north-west side of Lake Mývatn, you will find a monument on the tragic accident, which happened on the 26th of October 1999 at Lake Mývatn. Three men in a boat were putting a fibre optic cable in the lake when bad weather hit them and they drowned.

The Sigurgeir's Bird Museum at Mývatn - Breeding Birds in Iceland

One of them was Sigurgeir Stefánsson (an employee at Kísiliðjan diatomite factory) and the others were Böðvar Björgvinsson and Jón Kjartansson, who were employees at Síminn telephone company.

Do pay Sigurgeir's Bird Museum a visit when you are in this area. This informative museum is a lovely tribute to Sigurgeir and his dream.

To visit this area you can rent a car in Reykjavík and drive up north in two days. Also check out the self-drive tours with a car, accommodation and a detailed itinerary included.

The Sigurgeir's Bird Museum at Mývatn - Breeding Birds in Iceland

I have added several other blogs on Mývatn, as my husband's family owns a summer cottage there and we spend a lot of time exploring and enjoying this lovely area:

Have a lovely time at Mývatn :)

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