Finland is a country of vast green forests, beautiful Baltic islands, windswept arctic fells and countless blue lakes (though someone claims to have counted 187,888!)
These pristine and picturesque landscapes provide habitat for many wild animals and birds including magnificent bears, wolves, lynx, eagles, cranes and swans, as well as the world’s rarest seal. Birdwatchers flock to Finland to find species that are hard to spot anywhere else in Europe. Keen wildlife photographers also come here to enjoy excursions and facilities that enable them to get spectacular shots of our amazing animals in their natural wild settings.
Great places to watch out for these creatures include Finland’s 40 national parks, which are freely open to everyone all year round. Our wildlife gallery spotlights some of Finland’s most iconic animals and birds.
Full of interesting contrasts, such as the four seasons, the Midnight Sun and winter darkness, urban and rural, East and West.
These beautiful big cats have become more common in Finland’s forests in recent years, though they are hard to spot, as their excellent senses of sight, smell and hearing enable them to keep well away from humans.
Whooper swan (Laulujoutsen)
The graceful white whooper swan is Finland’s national bird. Flocks of swans and cranes returning from their southerly wintering areas are welcomed by Finnish nature-lovers as heralding the long-awaited arrival of the spring.
Saimaa ringed seal
These rare inland seals have adapted to their freshwater home since they were cut off from the sea in Lake Saimaa – Finland’s largest lake – after the Ice Age. They are found only in Lake Saimaa. Thanks to conservation measures their numbers have recently risen to over 300, but they are still seriously endangered.
Great grey owl (Lapin pöllö)
The concentric rings around the eyes of these huge northern owls make them look perpetually surprised. Great grey owls can get quite aggressive if anyone approaches their nest or their young owlets.
Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? There’s no need to fear an unexpected encounter with a wolf when walking in a Finnish forest, as wolves are scarce and do their best to avoid people. The best way to see a wild wolf is to take one of the specially organised overnight wildlife-watching excursions in Finland’s eastern borderlands where wolves are most numerous.
Finland is home to more than 1,500 bears, though they are only seldom seen, since they are shy of people. Several wildlife tour operators run excursions out into the forests of Eastern Finland where you can stay overnight in a hide and watch and photograph wild bears who come to feed on fishy or meaty scraps put out to attract them.
Also known as gluttons, wolverines are hardy arctic animals that look like small elongated bears, though in fact they are more closely related to Finland’s pine martens, otters and badgers. Wolverine-watching trips are organised in Eastern Finland.
Siberian jay (Kuukkeli)
Siberian jays are sociable birds found in Lapland and other northerly regions. They often appear to scrounge tasty tidbits when they notice that hikers or skiers have stopped for a picnic.
This ermine is well camouflaged in the snow in its white winter coat. Several Finnish forest animals shed their summer coats in the autumn and turn white for the winter. Snow-covered forests may look lifeless at first, until you notice the many tracks left by their animals and birds.
White-tailed eagle (Merikotka)
Thanks to the efforts of Finnish nature conservationists, majestic white-tailed eagles have returned from the brink of extinction, and today they are a common sight soaring over the waters and islands of Finland’s beautiful Baltic archipelagoes.
Encounter with a Bear – how to go bear watching in Lakeland
With some 2,000 brown bears freely roaming the country, Finland offers the best bear watching safaris in Europe. In the central and eastern forests of Lakeland, several companies organize bear watching and photography trips between April and September.