Iceland's Bird of the Year 2021 is the Golden Plover Skip to content

Iceland’s Bird of the Year 2021 is the Golden Plover

By Gréta Sigríður Einarsdóttir

Golden Plover Iceland
Photo: A golden plover in Iceland, summertime.

Iceland’s Bird of the Year 2021 is the golden plover, according to an election by Birdlife Iceland. The golden plover was chosen out of 20 birds but the great northern diver was a close second.

Birdlife Iceland organised the search for the Bird of the Year for the first time, but hope to make the election an annual event. The Bird of the Year is meant to raise awareness of birdlife and the threats it’s facing, such as climate change and habitat loss. Some of the birds in the competition, such as the puffin, the arctic tern, and the purple sandpiper are in a dire situation.

The golden plover on the other hand is doing well, with a stock of close to 400,000 pairs in Iceland. It’s a common bird in Iceland and about a third of all golden plovers lay their eggs in Iceland. It’s a migratory bird and flies to western Europe for winter, mostly Ireland but also France, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Although the golden plover is a lovely bird, its popularity likely stems from its role as the harbinger of spring. Many a poem has been written celebrating the plover’s and spring’s arrival and the first plover sighting makes headlines every year.

2054 votes were cast, choosing from 20 birds and voters could choose their top five favourites. Every bird in the competition had an election campaign manager, promoting their bird on social media and in the media. Guðrún Jónsdóttir led the golden plover campaign, going on radio interviews, starting a Facebook page and even opening an election office, serving visitors coffee on the patio. According to her, “the golden plover is the nation’s one true unifying symbol.”

The top 10 birds for 2021 according to Birdlife Iceland’s voters were as follows:

  1. Golden plover
  2. Northern diver
  3. Rock ptarmigan
  4. Raven
  5. White wagtail
  6. Arctic tern
  7. Common snipe
  8. Puffin
  9. Blackbird
  10. Winter wren

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