Things I Learned in the Space of Two Hours in Handöl

May 30th, 2011 | Meera

The Science Essayist is volunteering at a bird observatory in Sweden this summer.

1. Tits prefer mosses and lichens for their nests; flycatchers prefer grasses…and sometimes, reindeer hair.

2. Reindeer hair is white, slightly oily-feeling, and very soft. I would not mind stroking a reindeer.

3. Pied flycatcher eggs are tiny and a beautiful pale blue, like the color of American robins’ eggs; blue tits lay bigger, creamy eggs mottled with brown.

4. There is at least one blue tit out there in the world that is not averse to building its nest on top of a dead relative: we found a corpse tucked into the bottom of an active nest box, buried under several strata of moss, its head perfectly preserved and its body mostly eaten. It was strange and interesting, and also made me feel oddly homesick for the lab.

5. Sometimes the smallest creatures are the fiercest. (Well, I knew that one already, I suppose.)

I should have more for you soon. In the meantime, I bid you a very good night from that special time of day over here where the sun is neither setting nor rising, but hanging out just under the horizon being beautiful.

3 Responses to “Things I Learned in the Space of Two Hours in Handöl”

  1. what’s going on when the blue tit freaks out in the beginning of the video? I can’t believe you get to see Ruffs on lek, that’s awesome.

  2. Meera says:

    I think that one is a Great Tit. Stefan just flicked its wing when he was removing a ring for it, and I guess it decided to protest. They’re tough little beasties!

    The Ruffs are totally unreal. I keep expecting them to be bigger, somehow; I think because they have so much personality.

  3. Meera says:

    P.S. I love your latest Wingtrip post, by the way.