Nov 112012

In September there was an interesting article in the local main newspaper Postimees about eagles that live in Northern Europe, including in Estonia, and migrate to southern climates beginning in August and September.  Jüri and I have enjoyed bird-watching, not only at our backyard feeders, but also at bird sanctuaries in the United States.  I think our interest began with living in southern New Jersey for years and we were only about 40 minutes away from Ocean City and Cape May which were major congregating points for migratory birds in the fall before they began to fly further south across the bay.  After our move to Florida, we joined Audubon Society to learn about Florida’s birdlife. So this article about Estonian’s migratory birds drew our interest.

The flight begins.









In the beginning with visits to Estonia, friends and relatives who took us into the countryside, quickly learned that if a stork’s nest was visible, we would most likely want to stop to take a photo.  For them it was somewhat puzzling, why we would be taking all these pictures of birds that they had grown up with and that were so commonplace.  I remember being told when I was young that in Estonia storks brought babies home and left them on doorsteps to be brought into the family. So it appeared to me that storks were possessed with magical powers…. Maybe that it why I became a developmental biologist/embryologist: to determine when the connection between birth and storks took place….To see storks sitting on top of large nests on high chimneys and poles was simply fantastic!  The same stork pair returns to its nest year after year and just adds on a new layer for that year’s nesting period.  Some of these nests are huge!  So we certainly took a lot of pictures of them then and I still am (see slideshow).

To go back to the article, the black storks and eagles (kalakotkased; similar to Ospreys in Florida) started their migrations already in the early- and mid- part of August. This site shows their migration routes.  Quite a number of these birds have been banded and these birds now also carry GPS devices, so their migratory routes and progress southward can be followed precisely to see where they spend the winter and when they begin to return north. The site is available in three languages, Estonian, English, and Russian.  As you will see, some of the eagles have already reached sites near the Equator in Africa.  The storks I notice have settled, or are presently, in Spain and southern parts of France and Germany.                                                                                                             

If you are interested, go to the following website:

Estonian folk wisdom has the following saying about bird migration:

 Geese migrate, bad weather follows.  (Haned lähvad, halvad ilmad).

Storks migrate, severe weather follows.  (Kured lähvad, kurjad ilmad).

Swans depart, snow follows.             (Luiged lähvad, lumi taga).

Remembering Holden Caulfield’s curiosity in Catcher in the Rye about where ducks go in winter, nothing is said about ducks leaving.  We have had our first snow and the temperature continues to be around zero degrees (C), but we still see mallard ducks on Emajõgi in front of our apartment building.


  One Response to “Birds of a Feather…”

  1. Hi Kersti,

    great letter. Beautiful photos.

    Best regards,


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