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Birds and animals

Various aquatic birds breed along the coasts and live in large colonies in many places, exemplified by several colonies of terns and gulls.
Breeding sites are often found on the small uninhabited islands and islets where breeding colonies of the Common Gull, Great Black-Headed Gull and Herring Gull are sometimes located – as well as the Great Black-Backed Gull in a few places.


Terns are a characteristic bird of the Archipelago, where species such as the Arctic Tern, Little Tern, Sandwich Tern and Common Tern are observed. The endangered status of several of these species is one of the reasons the South Funen Archipelago is under international protection.
The Arctic Tern migrates the greatest distance of any bird in the area, as it breeds here in summer before flying all the way to Antarctica to winter in the belt of pack ice.


Other aquatic birds that breed in the Archipelago are the Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Ringed Plover and Redshank, as well as, in a few places, the Avocet, Ruff, Black-Tailed Godwit and Dunlin.

The nature conservation and restoration efforts of Funen County have helped to improve the living and breeding conditions of many species of waders, gulls and terns. Read more.


Several remote areas of the islands have been designated as natural habitat areas where access is prohibited during the breeding season from 1 March – 15 July, while other areas are so-called restricted areas, i.e. where signs are posted urging visitors to respect the natural habitat, particularly during the breeding season. The bird breeding sanctuaries are frequently surveyed, i.e. to monitor the growth or decline of bird breeding populations.

The shallow coastal waters serve as resting areas for thousands of birds that winter here or rest briefly before continuing their migration. Several swan species are seen by the thousands out in the Archipelago when their flight feathers are moulting. This prevents them from flying and makes them very sensitive to disturbances.


The shallow coastal waters are teeming with wild fauna, such as the Shore Crab, Common Prawn and Common Mussel.


                       Common Mussel
                   Photo - Naturturisme
    Photo - Naturturisme
  Catching crabs, Bjørnø
     Photo - Naturturisme



The islands are also habitats for many amphibians that are quite rare and included on lists of endangered Danish animals (red list 1997), e.g. the Fire-Bellied Toad and the Green Toad, both of which are protected and it is forbidden to catch or disturb them.
Both species are indigenous, i.e. they have lived throughout the South Funen Archipelago but their numbers have been greatly reduced by the draining off and filling in of many waterholes and ponds.
By means of a project funded by EU-Life in 1999–2003, Funen County has used a colony of Avernakø’s Fire-Bellied Toads for stocking suitable ponds in South Langeland. The Fire-Bellied Toads released in the ponds have now increased in number and it is hoped they will spread to nearby waterholes.

The Green Toad has a few habitats in the Archipelago, e.g. Skarø and Lyø, where it lives in newly excavated waterholes, village ponds, brackish water, low-lying wetlands near the coast, watering holes for cattle and flooded fields.
The Edible Frog is quite abundant on the islands of the South Funen Archipelago and can be seen in large numbers near ponds and marshy areas.

The largest wild land animals of the South Funen Archipelago, except for the tiniest uninhabited islands, are the Fallow Deer and the Roe Deer. Other animals include the Fox, Badger, Stone Marten, Weasel, Polecat, Ermine and (escaped) Mink. Although squirrels are not found on many of the islands, such as Langeland, a completely black Squirrel lives in South Funen. Hares, Hedgehogs and, particularly, Water Voles are seen everywhere.

In coastal waters, you may often be fortunate to catch a glimpse of the Harbour Porpoise, often in small groups, hunting along the coasts for food such as Cod, Herring, Mackerel and other small fish. The porpoise breeds in the interior waters of Denmark where offspring are born after an eleven-month gestation period and suckle from their mother for almost six months.
The population of Harbour Porpoise in the South Funen Archipelago belongs to the Kattegat population (including Denmark’s Little and Great Belts), one of three separate populations of Harbour Porpoise in Denmark, the two other being North Sea-Skagerrak and the Baltic Sea populations.

Another large aquatic mammal is the Eastern Atlantic Harbour Seal which lives near sandy spits, reefs, islands and islets where it rests before resuming its search for food. Its primary habitats are the Jutland Wadden Sea, Kattegat and Limfjorden, while a small population inhabit the south part of Denmark, including the South Funen Archipelago. Their diet primarily consists of fish but they also eat squid and crustaceans. The Eastern Atlantic Harbour Seal is protected, as is the Harbour Porpoise.


Grøn frø
Green Toad
Photo - Andreas Mørck


Fugleskelet på stranden
Skeleton from bird at the beach
Photo - Naturturisme