Fictional and non-fictional bird writing continues to attract wide audiences in Estonia, Finland, and many other North-European countries. Birds crowd in prose, poetry, photography books, field guides, and in films and art as well. At the same time, however, real birds living in the North are suffering from rapidly changing environmental conditions, such as climate change and excessive land use. The most recent evaluation of endangered bird species in Finland suggests that up to 30% of species breeding in Finland is now threatened. In this somewhat paradoxical situation it is important to join the forces of different fields of research and art to discuss the cultural meanings of birds. What meanings do birds have in cultural texts, and how are birds present in texts, through their voices and appearances? What is the cultural significance and value of birds in our cultures, and what practical consequences follow our affinity to birds? Could a transdisciplinary humanistic-artistic-scientific understanding of birds (and of our relationship with them) help to develop more sustainable ways of living with birds? To discuss these and other related topics, we invite scholars interested in the theme to share their views on texts and birds in a special two-day seminar Tekstid ja linnud. The first day is a closed working seminar for scholars specialised in bird texts or birds and texts – texts understood widely as any cultural artefacts, following Juri Lotman. The aim of the first day is to discuss both thematic and methodological questions related to the participants’ own research. The language of the working seminar is English.

The second day is an open seminar for larger public in Matsalu Nature Film Festival program. In the afternoon we will go to a guided field trip with the local bird guide Tarvo Valker. The Matsalu Nature Film Festival is a perfect opportunity to learn more and continue sharing your ideas about birds and texts! The aim of this open seminar is to encourage discussions between arts, sciences and the wider public.



September 21, Laelatu Biological Station

I 11.30–13.00
Elle-Mari Talivee (Under and Tuglas Literature Centre) Avian voices and birds in Marie Under´s Poetry
Kadri Tüür (University of Tartu/Centre for Environmental History) Avian Voices in Estonian Literature: Poetry of Jaan Kaplinski
Karoliina Lummaa (University of Turku) Picoides tridactylus – Poetic Descriptions
Jason Finch (Åbo Akademi University) Yeats and the Birds: Irish Swan or Cockney Sparrow?

II 14.00–15.30
Riho Kinks (Estonian Ornithological Society) Migrants and Refugees in Estonian Ornithofauna
Freydis Ehrlich, Eve Rannamäe (University of Tartu) Reading Bones – Archaeo-ornithological Research Illustrated by a Case Study From the Late Iron Age Viljandi
Lauri Saks (University of Tartu) Bird Vision: How Do Birds See?

III 16.00-17.00
Mall Hiiemäe (Estonian Literary Museum, Estonian Folklore Archives) Birds in Estonian Traditional Folk Belief
Meeli Mesipuu (Estonian University of Life Sciences) Plants Named After Birds – slide show
Monika Hint (University of Tartu, Viljandi Culture Academy), Birds on Estonian Traditional Textile Bedcovers – slide show

18.00 Matsalu Nature Film Festival. Opening Ceremony. Opening film: Fragile World, Estonia 35’ (B) World premiere!


September 22, Lihula Manor and Museum

Public day.

Information: Elle-Mari Talivee,, +372 6722 847.