Estonian mythology and folk stories are often centered around animal characters who provide other creatures with valuable advice or play a trick on them. It would not be a stretch to say that nature and animals are deeply present in many aspects of everyday Estonian life, from language use and passport design to the fierce debates in society over which animal would deserve the national animal title the most.
In general, wild animals in Estonia aren't dangerous, except for bears in spring when they protect their offspring. Although wolves used to sometimes attack and eat humans 140 years ago, this behaviour is now in the past and you definitely should not be afraid of being eaten by a wolf in an Estonian forest. The forests provide them with plenty of food and they know how to stay clear of our species, in turn.
Every year, Estonia chooses the animal, tree and bird of the year. For 2022, the titles were awarded to the following species: the brown bear, the rowan tree and the Eurasian Woodcock.
Five seasons of wildlife spotting
SPRING. In spring, western Estonia becomes a popular birdwatching destination, attracting curious binocular-equipped visitors from around the world. Estonia is among the top three European bird watching destinations for the number of species spotted and the season can begin already in March. It usually culminates with a spring migration in mid-May and winds down by mid-June.
THE FIFTH SEASON. That's true, Estonia is the only place in Northern Europe with a unique fifth season: every year, early spring floods arrive in Soomaa, rendering up to 17,500 hectares of roads, lower forests, and meadows only navigable by water. The high water does not only transform the country's karst landscapes but also the landscapes of human homes. Canoes are needed to get to your house and the locals know how to use them. The fifth season is not made special by particular species but by the opportunity to experience the entire landscape in its wild and changing form.