Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Birds of Oslo

It is not my imagination; there are a multitude of birds in the city of Oslo now. This must reflect the abundance of trees and bushes—plantings that have been prioritized during the past decade’s period of urban renewal that Oslo has undergone. Sparrows, starlings, magpies, blackbirds, pigeons, doves, thrushes, crows, swallows, seagulls, mallard ducks and Canada geese—to name just a few. Not only is the city lovelier after extensive urban renewal, it is livelier in the natural sense. I can lie in bed with my eyes closed, and for a few seconds, imagine that I am not living in a city at all—because we awake to the sound of parent and baby magpies calling to each other in the tree outside our bedroom window. Sometimes when it is quiet in the evenings, you can hear the gulls and the doves calling and chirping to one another, each with their own distinctive sounds. Or when I walk along Kirkeveien road to the tram station at UllevĂ„l Hospital in the morning, I watch the birds forage for insects and worms in the newly-mown grass of the fields that surround the hospital. They’re plucky creatures and they have a lot to teach us, if we only pay attention. The seagulls have discovered the Akerselva River, and they can be seen flying in and around the apartment developments along the river as well as hanging out on the islands of the inner Oslo fjord. Sometimes they’ve landed on the balcony outside our kitchen window, and the noise they make can be deafening. The other day we saw three of them in the road near where we live; someone had tossed a bag of half-eaten chicken onto the road. They were greedily scavenging what remained; my husband commented on the fact that they eat the remains of other birds. In one sense, we can be thankful for their scavenging traits, because they clean up the sea and now even the land. Mallards and geese live along the water, whether it is the Akerselva or the fjord. A pigeon flew into our dining room last week; the weather has been so warm and nice that all the windows in our house are open most of the time. It didn’t seem to be too scared; it flew to the top of the hutch and then out again. It was one of the ‘tagged’ pigeons—those with a small metal band around one leg. I read online that this tagging may be part of an initiative by the Norwegian Bird Association to track the movements of pigeons around the city and the Oslo area in general.

I don’t know much about the different kinds of birds, but am beginning to be inspired to learn more about them. I’d also like to get better at photographing them, but that’s going to be quite tricky. I’m on the internet a lot to search for photos of thrushes and thrashers and other birds that I know really so little about. I found this website for those of you who might be interested in learning about what birds there are to be found in Oslo; there are quite a few, which was pleasant and interesting news to me: http://avibase.bsc-eoc.org/checklist.jsp?region=noos&list=clements

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