With Plover's Arrival, Spring Officially Begins in Iceland Skip to content

With Plover’s Arrival, Spring Officially Begins in Iceland

By Andie Sophia Fontaine

golden plover in iceland
Photo: A European Golden Plover. Mike Pennington/Wikimedia Commons.

Last Friday, a European golden plover was spotted in Garður, a town in the western portion of Suðurnes peninsula, Vísir reports, and in Iceland that means one thing overall: spring has returned. Guðmundur Hjörtur Falk Jóhannesson saw four of the birds in the village last Friday, and was able to snap a few photos.

According to Icelandic tradition, the arrival of the plover is the herald of spring, migrating as they do to the island as the months begin to get warmer. While this could be said for many birds migrating to and from Iceland, the golden plover likely stands out due to the fact that a whole third of the world’s entire golden plover population nests in Iceland.

This is reflected in Icelandic folklore as well. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the poem “Lóan er komin” by the Icelandic poet Páll Ólafsson, who penned this verse in around 1875:

The plover has arrived to bid the snow farewell
to bid boredom farewell, that she does.
She has told me that soon the whimbrel will come,
sunshine in valleys and blossoms in fields.
She has told me of my sins,
I sleep too much and I don’t work much.
She has told me to wake up and work
and with great hopefulness welcome the summer.

This poem, like more than a few Icelandic poems, has been set to song, and has featured a number of creative arrangements.

For the record, the vernal equinox–that is, the actual first day of spring–for the northern hemisphere was on March 20th.

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