Holiday romance with a bird | Science

We returned to the countryside after a week and a half away. Our first concern was whether the blackbird in our yard is still alive.

On the second day, there was a mecca from under the kitchen window, and from there a blackbird leered onto the stones of the yard. After a couple of seconds, the bird continued its journey across the road and across the field.

“It flew like Irma”, my husband assessed.

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In two summers, I have spent some weeks in the countryside. For me, staring at nature in my free time is an adventure. Of course, as a biologist, a professional looking at nature, I have seen everything from Enontekiö to the rainforests of Madagascar. In the summer, I focused on looking at the forest border in Merikarvia without the need to see anything.

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You can easily spend a couple of hours a day in the deck chairs brought next to the sauna, while you cool down between baths. A recurring joke was that we’re waiting for a badger to hobble between the barn and the litter to greet us.

There was no badger to be seen, but an open mind quickly found meanings in the surrounding nature. Last summer our friend was Irma, a loud blackbird.

Irma completely took over our yard at midsummer. It scurried under the apple trees near the sunbathing spot, tonked in the lettuce field near the kitchen window, and finally pooped in the blueberry bush behind our cooling deck chairs.

Irma was profanely inelegant. It tumbled, rolled and staggered. Its presence was usually heard long before seen. Irma often scared with her loud chatter. It was easily distinguished from its peers.

Following Irma was exciting. After not seeing it for a while, we thought we hope it’s all right. When we left, we hoped that we would see Irma again next year, which of course is unlikely.

After the summer, I’ve started to wonder if I had the first holiday romance of my life.

Romances ignite on vacation, because on vacation you are usually in a new place and people have so-called positive stress. A fun and exciting adventure tunes you up to receive experiences. On vacation, the foreign environment enables the creation of new intimate relationships.

All points can be ticked: this corresponds to my summer experience.

Next year we will probably return to the same place for the third time. I hope there will still be enough of the charm of novelty that I will be able to experience the holiday romance again.

Tuomas Aivelo
is a PhD researcher in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Helsinki.

The column was published in Tiede Luonno 6/2022.

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