There are 393 species of birds in Estonia, over half of which are nesting birds, but there are also exciting visitors who stop here during their wanderings or because of stormwinds. The broad range of the winged world of birds is closely connected with our environment as a whole, and it also provides knowledge about environmental changes. Thus the behaviour of birds can tell us about impending climate change. More and more birds who previously flew away for the winter are staying on, and wanderers are returning earlier and earlier. Bird-watching is a good opportunity to get to know the natural world: wisdom about what surrounds us does not happen on its own. In the introduction to the exhibit professor in conservation biology, Asko Lõhmus emphasises that one has to watch, think, and communicate.

This virtual exhibit reflects how birds have flown from their natural environment into our cultural heritage and art, paintings and everyday items, and the raising of children; from there to archives and libraries. Each collection contains at least one bird. What is its story: is it a firebird or a magical bird, or does it have a real prototype in nature? Does it like to wander? Does it need protection or investigation? Each item in the collection tells its own story.

An excursion in Tartu along with determining bird species is conducted by the first director of the Estonian Ornithological Society, Professor Johannes Piiper, 1935. Estonian Agricultural Museum Foundation, Estonian Agricultural Museum

We celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Estonian Ornithological Society/BirdLife Estonia.

The founding of the Estonian Ornithological Society/BirdLife Estonia was undertaken in May 1921 by the rector of the new Estonian National University, otolaryngology professor Henrik Koppel, future zoology professor and nature writer Johannes Piiper (who defended his doctoral dissertation in London in 1927), botanist Gustav Vilbaste, conservationist Mihkel Härms, as well as the Finnish scholar Johannes Gabriel Granö, who took part in laying the groundwork for geography in the Estonian language.

At the time the goals were: Precise determination of the bird species who are permanent or temporary residents in the homeland; Studying the ways of life of birds in the homeland; Precise observations about the departure and arrival of native migrating birds; Spreading knowledge to the public about the life of birds orally and in written form; Protection of birds.

One might ask how and in what way knowledge about the life of birds has made its way to the people. We invite everyone to participate in this virtual exhibition! To this end we ask libraries, archives, museums and other memory institutions to send us exciting birds from their collections. Please do not limit yourselves to the 100-year time frame or a narrow genre: perhaps your collections include some interesting everyday item or toy with a bird on it? A sleigh blanket? A beer tankard? Bird lore? A film clip? We very much look forward to 1–5 digital exhibit items from each one of you (

If possible, it would be wonderful if one bird from each memory institutionʼs collection would be on exhibit in their own building: this would provide a gateway into the virtual exhibition.

Curators of the Exhibition

Elle-Mari Talivee Senior Researcher at the Under and Tuglas Literature Centre, project EnviroCitizen
Ülle Sillasoo Teacher of Natural Sciences at Vaida Primary School and Merivälja School
Andres Kalamees Project Manager at the Estonian Ornithological Society/BirdLife Estonia
Marin Jänes Research Secretary of the Under and Tuglas Literature Centre

At the moment a small experimental corner of the virtual exhibition has been completed; there are plans for broadening the platform, and providing each museum piece with literary and nature-educational context.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 872557 “Envirocitizen – Citizen Science for Environmental Citizenship