Nordic Nature

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nordic nature

Mysterious, fun, ­ and exciting! Norwegian nature is very special. No one has flora and fauna quite like ours here up north. Few species live here, compared to rainforests, tropical coral reefs, and the African savannahs, but our animals and plants are among the world’s toughest, fastest, smartest, and most resilient. They can survive the cold, heat, rain, and snow. They make do with morsels of food, and are very good at hiding. In Nordic Nature, you’ll join us on a journey from the high summits and moist mires, to beneath our city streets and down into the ocean deep, and you’ll get to know both rare and common animals, plants, and fungi. Few countries have as much untouched nature, clean water, and fresh air as here up north. But this nature needs protecting, too. It can’t withstand everything. Pollution is brought over from other countries by wind and rain. Plastic waste floats on shore as far north as Svalbard, and we claim ever bigger pieces of nature when we build new roads or wind turbines. The climate is changing more quickly here than in other parts of the world. Nearly 3000 species have become so rare they may disappear from Norway entirely. After reading this book, a walk through the woods, ­over the mountains, ­along the beach, or across town will never be the same!

Ole a n d Esthe r



Black alder branch


Two-spot ladybird

Leafy forests Broadleaf, or deciduous, forests are woodlands where most trees are leafy, while in coniferous forests, most trees have needles. Almost all the forests in Norway are mixed forests, with both coniferous and deciduous trees. But various types of broadleaf forests can be very different. The mountain birch woods enjoy the cold and don’t mind blizzards. The central parts of the country also feature birch and aspen woods that aren’t defeated by temperatures dropping below zero. These woods are perfect for logging, because the trees are easy to cut down and the logs easy to cleave. The southern coast of Norway boasts natural treasures: highly-valued broadleaf forests featuring ancient oak trees, hazel, massive ash trees, alders, and beeches. These trees prefer some warmth; they need an average temperature of at least 12 degrees Celsius for three months every summer, or else they won‘t be able to make new saplings. And new trees are necessary for the forest to live on! 5000 years ago, broadleaf forests covered large parts of Norway, especially along the coast. This type of forest still dominated Europe a few centuries ago. Most are now gone. The forests have been turned into fields, towns, and roads, and animals like wild horses, bison, and Irish elk have gone extinct.

Maple leaf


Yellow w

agtail Birch(Oppslag 6:)

wo Gr od ee pe n ck ­ er

Myldreillustrasjon av livet i en løvskog

Black-­ spotted ­ longhorn ­ beetle


Silver-washed ­ fritillary

Wild piglet Lady’s mantle blacklet

Fern ehem


Red fox

ethl B f o star

Wood anemone




hawk ( w o r r a p S


Red deer stag

Dor beetle

e­ hog


Fly amanita

The broadleaf forests are Scandinavia‘s last jungles. The thick broadleaf canopy of the giant trees, and the many bushes and ferns on the ground, provide a moist environment where enormous numbers of insects thrive. It creates an El Dorado for birds, who often feed on insects. 1. Tawny owl

Strix aluco HEI G H T : 40 cm WI NG S PA N: 9 ­ 4–104 cm An owl you can find in both forests and in big gardens and parks. Many enjoy listening to its hooting. But this hasn’t always been the case. Back in the day, Norwegians were frightened when they heard the hooo-hooo calls on dark winter nights. And even more scared when the males and females called “klevitt, kle-vitt” to each other in the spring. This sounds a bit like “kleddi-hvitt, kledd-i-hvitt”, which means “dressed-in-white”. Deceased people were often dressed in white clothes before burial, so people believed that these calls were a death omen.

2. Common oak

Quercus robur HEI G H T : Up to 35 metres Planks of oak were a Viking-­ favourite for ship-building. Oak wood is hard and long-lasting. The trees can become very old, and in Norway there are many over a thousand years old. Some are almost old enough to have watched the Vikings buid the f­amous Gokstad ship. An oak can grow for 500 years, and live on for just as long. Just think how much has happened during its lifetime! Old oaks are often hollow, and you can step inside the biggest ones. Hollow oaks are home to a myriad of mushrooms, lichen, and insects. More than 1400 species have been found inside hollow oaks, and up to 500 different species on a single tree!


3. Emperor moth

Saturnia pavonia W I N G S PAN : Male: 58–64 mm, ­ Female: 68–88 mm This beautiful night-flying moth can be found all over Norway, but is a rare sight. Although they’re spread all over, there are very few left. And the female only flies at night. Of Norway’s 2100 moth species, only 100 are active during the day. These are butterflies. The rest are night-flying moths. The emperor moth has a clever way of finding a mate. The female sits in a shrub and sends off a scent. The male, who has extremely sensitive antennas, can smell her from 6 miles away!

4. Smooth snake

Coronella austriaca L E N G T H : 80–89 cm The terror of the forest! When the smooth snake comes gliding over broadleaf branches, all the bird parents panic. This rare snake isn’t venomous, but it winds around its prey, strangling them. Its favourite dish is baby birds. But sometimes the smooth snake also eats slow worms and venomous adders. The smooth snake is cold-blooded, just like other reptiles and amphibians. This means that it can’t regulate its body temperature on its own, but has to be warmed up by the sun. While the adder sunbathes in plain sight on stones and stumps, the smooth snake likes lying beneath sun-warmed rocks.

5. Pouched-wing moth fly Ulomyia fuliginosa L E N G T H : 2–3 mm Did you know that some flies can dance? There are more than 3000 types of flies in Norway. A few,

like mosquitos, might bite and suck your blood, but the pouchedwing moth fly won’t. On its back it has two soft “pouches” that make pheromones – a type of perfume the fella uses to impress the ladies. And if that’s not enough to catch their attention, he’ll dance and show off the pretty black-andwhite pattern on his tiny wings.

6. February daphne

Daphne mezereum H E I G H T : 50–150 cm Dangerously beautiful! If you go for a spring stroll to take in the wood anemones and spot a twig with purple flowers, then leave it alone! The February daphne is one of the most poisonous plants in the forest. It’s easy to find, because it flowers before the leaves sprout. The bark, flowers, and red berries are all very toxic. Before modern medicines were invented, some people thought that this plant could heal the sick. They were wrong. They just got sicker.

7. Wild boar

Sus scrofa L E N G T H : 90–185 cm ­ + 30–40 cm tail A few thousand years ago, the climate was warmer in Scandinavia. There were massive broadleaf forests all along the southern coast. In them thrived wild boars, and they were a popular Stone Age dinner. But just as people started felling the forests to farm the land, the climate got colder. The boars weren’t fans of this development, and left 2500 years ago. Now the climate is getting warmer again, and in southern Sweden there are more than 200,000 wild boars. A steady stream are crossing into Norway.








Why birds sing Birds sing to tell everyone: “This neck of the woods is mine!” They sing to attract a boyfriend or a girlfriend. And when they find one, many will sing to set the mood, so they’ll feel like mating. The birds also sing to make sure they mate with someone of the same species. Since different birds have different songs, a wood warbler will be able to avoid attracting a willow warbler. Mostly the male sings, but that doesn’t mean the females are mute. In some species, the pair will sing a duet. This can create a stronger bond. Not all the sounds birds make are songs. The blackbird sings beautifully in the treetops, but can scream harshly when scared. Birds call out when there’s danger. Many species use basically the same high-pitched, monotonous note – so all the small birds nearby can know a predator is coming. Birds sing the most in early spring. That’s when they have to secure their area from other males, and find a girlfriend. The birdsong is most ­ intense at dawn. The starling twitters eagerly at night too, probably to tell each other where they’ve found food.


All songbirds are born with a song “recipe”, but they practice their actual singing by listening to their dad. That’s why the males sing some during the summer as well. The starling is also a star at mimicking. It can mimic the tawny owl, pigeons, hens, and even the sound of a telephone ringing – something it does to impress potential mates. There are birds that don’t sing, too, but rather use other strategies to attract mates. Some have beautiful feathers, while o ­ thers build magnificent nests or fight. Woodpeckers drum on ­dry dead trees. Chaffinch

Robin redbreast

Robin redbreast

Erithacus rubecula LENG TH: 14 cm WI NG S PA N: 20–22 cm Sings differently depending on mood and desire. Often starts with a wobbly intonation, interrupted by clear whistling. Coaxes with precise “tick-ick-ick-ick”. Warns with a long “tseeee”.

Common blackbird

Turdus merula LENG TH: 23–29 cm WI NG S PA N: 34–38 cm Melodious song, ­ can sound a bit sad. ­ Good at warning ­ others with a screechy ­ “pink, pink, pink” ­ or “chuck, chuck, ­ ki-ki ki-ki”.

Willow warbler

Phylloscopus trochilus L E N G T H : 11–12,5 cm Almost identical to the chiffchaff, but the warbler sings a trilling s­ ong that sounds a little like a faint chaffinch song. The chiffchaff happily sticks to “chiff-chaff ”.


Pyrrhula pyrrhula L E N G T H : 14,5–16 cm Low, kinda creaky, melancholy ­ flute sound.

Wood pigeon

Columba palumbus L E N G T H : 45 cm W I N G S PAN : 65–80 cm Repeats a deep «co-cooo-co, co-co».

Great tit

Parus major L E N G T H : 12,5–14 cm Intense chirping from March onwards with a recognisable “tee-tee-too, tee-tee-too”.


Fringilla coelebs L E N G T H : 15 cm W I N G S PAN : 24–28 cm A large repertoire, and many dialects. But no matter where the chaffinch hails from, its song will end with “tee-tee-tee-teetum-tur”. It warns danger with “finch-finchfinch”.


Great tit

The world’s largest Blue whale

Balaenoptera musculus LE N G TH: 25–30 metres W E IGHT: up to 190 tonnes

hat ­ ­ t l a h m st ani d on Eart). e g g i B r live osaurs in ve has e uding all d (incl

year. ­ ­ d r i h t every ar, it births s e t a M one ye ng calf t­hat r e t f A e lo tonnes. r t e m a 7 ighs 2–3 we

The blue whale’s penis ­ can be up to three metres long. Each testicle ­ weighs 70 kilos.

Was almost made ­ extinct by whale hunters. Hunting them was banned in Norway in 1955, ­and globally in 1966.

In some oceans, ­ their population is ­ increasing a little.

When the blue whale surfaces, it blows steam 10–12 metres into the air.

Dives for 8 to 15 minutes before it needs to ­ surface to breathe.

The blue whale has 250–350 baleens in its upper jaw which it uses to sieve out water when it catches a shoal of krill.

Weighs up to 190 tonnes.

Blue whales live for 80–90 years. Only a few hundred blue whales visit Norway over ­ the course of a year. Its only food source ­ is 2–3 cm shrimp-like ­ crustaceans called krill.

The blue whale males ­ make ­the loudest noise of all ­ living beings when it sings for the females. The sound is usually­ so low that our human ears can’t hear it. They can "talk" to e­ach other across vast oceans.

How big an elephant is compared to a­ ­blue whale.

Snow bunting

Alpine hair grass


Polar la


g Sprin






The Arctic Snow and cold. Ice and strong gales. Animals, plants, and humans have to be tough to survive in the Arctic. Most species would die quickly if they found themselves there. It’s usually 20–40 degrees Celsius below freezing in winter, and rarely warmer than 10 degrees Celsius in the summer. That’s why no trees grow in the Arctic and the ground is frozen year-round – apart from a thin layer on top that defrosts in the middle of the summer. The Arctic region consists of both the oceans and land around the North Pole: the northernmost parts of Norway, Russia, Canada and Alaska, plus Svalbard and Greenland. The massive ice-covered Arctic Ocean is 5,000 metres deep. Over the last few decades, more and more ice has started melting during the summer. Global warming is happening almost twice as fast in the Arctic as in the rest of the world. That’s because lots of warmth from tropical regions around the equator is carried to the Arctic by wind and ocean currents. Species that require ice in order to hunt and bear offspring are struggling. And plants and animals that prefer it a bit warmer are now moving north into the Arctic region – like mackerel in the sea and dandelions on Svalbard. New species can wreck the Arctic ecosystem.



Little auk Sperm whale

Bearded seal

Little auk

Harp seal Orca

Minke whale

Polar bear

The Arctic summer is short. That’s why family life is so intense for the animals who live there. Once the kids are hatched or born, they have to survive on their own after only a handful of weeks. 1. Narwhal

Monodon monoceros LENG TH: 4–6 m The narwhal is nearly toothless: it only has one super long canine, and it consumes squids and fish by sucking. But in exchange, that one front tooth is the world’s longest. All males and some ­females grow a sharp lance of ­almost two meters. Some males have a tooth that’s almost three metres long! Several hundred years ago people believed that the narwhal tooth was e­ vidence of the existence o ­ f ­unicorns. A Danish scientist d ­ isproved this in 1683, but barely anyone believed him.

2. Snowy owl

Bubo scandiacus LENG TH: 55–70 cm WI NG S PA N: 1,5 m Snowy owls are nomadic, moving from place to place. They’re ­ always searching for somewhere to lay eggs, where there are lots of lemmings and other small ­ rodents to nourish their young. If there are not enough lemmings, they fly on. Some fly all the way to Siberia. That’s a journey of almost 2,500 kilometres. Nowadays, lemming years in Scandinavia come about less f­ requently, so the snowy owl has become a rare sight in Norway.

3. Ringed seal


Pusa hispida LENG TH: 1,1–1,6 m The little ringed seal is dependent on much of the Arctic sea being covered by ice. It relaxes and gives birth on top of the ice, but searches for food underneath it. Seals can swim underwater for a

long time, but need to surface to breathe. Only the ring seal is able to keep open breathing holes in the ice when winter is at its coldest. When the ring seal births offspring in springtime, it makes a small snow cave above a breathing hole to hide its pup. Polar bears love ring seal pups.

4. Walrus

Odobenus rosmarus L E N G T H : 2,5–3,5 m The ocean’s elephant! A grown male can weigh 1,5 tonnes – ­approximately as much as a big car. His teeth can grow to be over a metre long. They use them to fight other males during the mating season to win as many mates as possible. The fights will often result in bloodshed. The females use their smaller tusks to defend their calves from polar bears and orcas. But for the most part, the walrus is peaceful. When they’re not sleeping on ice floes or a beach, they’re eating mussels picked from the seabed. They can eat thousands of mussels every ­single meal.

5. Clione

Clione limacina L E N G T H : 3–6 cm A nearly transparent beauty, fluttering about in the freezing Arctic Ocean. The ventral foot (the bottom part of the slug, which it uses to crawl) is split in two, and it looks like it has wings when it moves up and down in the water. The clione is also called a sea butterfly or sea angel. But it’s not very angelic. This winged slug is a greedy predator who loves slurping up other winged slug species. The clione is important to the Arctic food chain – it features on the menus of many birds, fish, and big ­baleen whales.

6. Arctic fox

Vulpes lagopus L E N G T H : 45–65 cm + 30 cm tail No mammal in the world can bear the cold as well as the arctic fox, or polar fox, as it’s also called. It has a coat of thick insulating fur. In summer, the fur is thin and greyish brown, while the winter coat is chalkwhite. In winter, it’s even got fur under its paws. The Arctic fox can take -40 degrees without shivering, and when it gets even colder, it’ll dig down into the snow and lie there until the temperature gets milder again. It can survive without food for weeks while buried there.

7. Beluga whale

Delphinapterus leucas L E N G T H : 3,5–5,5 m Beluga whales love their friends and family. They sometimes gather in massive groups numbering in the hundreds, and swim together along the icy shore of Svalbard and other places in the Arctic. These whales are often called the canaries of the sea because they’re so noisy. Scientists have discovered more than 50 different kinds of calls, which are most certainly different messages they send each other. Some of the notes they whistle and sing are long, others are short. The beluga whale can dive for up to half an hour, going down 350 metres to hunt for squid and other bottom-dwellers, before it has to come up for air. But it usually just dives down 20–30 metres, staying underwater for 3–4 minutes.

7 2

6 4 5 3 1

The world's strongest The polar bear is the world’s biggest land predator. It is entirely reliant on sea ice to catch enough seals. Due to global warming, less and less of the Arctic Ocean is covered in ice.

Scientists are worried about the polar bear cubs of the ­future. If the sea ice around Svalbard has melted when they stumble out of hibernation in the spring, it becomes hard for the polar bear mama to catch enough food for her cubs. Although she can swim several hundred kilometres north to find ice, the cubs can’t. The polar bear is super strong, and would easily beat up a lion if they ever met. There are thousands of polar bears in the Arctic, and their population has increased since hunting them was forbidden in 1973. But if global warming continues, it will impact polar bears. What colour is the polar bear? Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t white. The hairs of their fur are transparent and colourless. The fur looks white, but that’s just an illusion. The polar bear’s nearly black skin is covered by wool, which is again covered by long guard hair. All the fur hairs are hollow and full of air. They­ insulate well, are water-repellant, and ensure the polar bear can survive very cold temperatures both in water and on land. Their paws are massive – 30 cm long and 25 cm wide. Excellent snowshoes for walking on fresh snow and powerful flippers in the water. It has fur under its feet, too, to protect from the cold. Their hefty and sharp 5–7 cm long claws grip the ice really well, and are perfect for snatching slippery seals. Polar bears have a great sense of smell: they can sniff out seals lying more than two metres under the snow. Their eyes work almost like sunglasses – a membrane covers their brown eyes, shielding them from the sun’s powerful ultraviolet rays. The bears love seals, and eat 30–40 ring seals, harp seals, and bearded seals every year. They can survive for half a year without any food at all.


Polar bear

Ursus maritimus L E N G TH: 1,8–2,6 m W E I G H T: male 300–600 kg, female 150–350 kg

The sea clown In the summer, the Atlantic puffin’s cheeks are almost chalk-white. Its beak is stripy in orange, red, yellow, and brown. And around the eyes, it’s dark blue. No wonder it’s been nicknamed “sea parrot” and “clown of the sea”. But in winter, when the puffin likes to float far out in the dark ocean, its cheeks and beak turn dark grey. No one knows why the summer beak is so beautiful. Both sexes look the same. Maybe they’re dressing up to impress each other?

Atlantic puffin

Fratercula arctica L E N G T H : 26–29 cm W I N G S PAN : 47–63 cm The Atlantic puffin is called ­ the sea parrot. When they come flapping from the sea, beaks ­ full of herring fry, it sounds like thousands of helicopters landing at once. Puffins are incredibly fast. They can keep up a speed of almost 90 km/h and beat their wings 400 times per minute.


Mysterious, fun and exciting: ­ Nordic nature is very special. No one has ­ flora and fauna quite like here up north. Few species live here, compared to rainforests, ­ tropical coral reefs, ­­and ­the African savannahs, but the animals ­ and plants are among ­t­he world’s toughest, fastest, smartest, and ­ most resilient. T ­ hey can survive ­­the cold, heat, rain, and snow. They ­ make do w ­ ith ­mere morsels of food, and are very good at hiding. Few countries have as much untouched nature, clean water, ­ and fresh air as the Nordics. But this nature needs protecting, too. ­ In Nordic Nature, you’ll join us on a journey from the high summits and moist mires, to beneath the city streets and down into the ocean deep, a­ nd you’ll get to know both rare and common animals, plants and fungi.

A marvellous book ­for ­ the whole family!

ISBN: 978-82-8373-201-6

9 788283 732016

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