Centuries-Old Papers Found in Bird Nests

While restoring a 15th century cathedral near Moscow, a most unusual archive of historic papers was recently discovered. Birds had built nests of dirt, branches, and pieces of paper.

The oldest papers date back to the 1830’s. Included in the papers was a 1,000 ruble note, which was a fortune back then. Also found were a multitude of bus tickets, candy wrappers, letters, student’s diplomas, birth certificates, and church documents. Bread ration cards from the 1930s, during the time of Stalin’s collectivation policies, were also found.

The birds involved were swifts and jackdaws (they are in the crow family). These birds had been using bits of paper for centuries and incorporating them in their nests. The papers could have been found on the ground, but the richness of the findings indicate that the birds may at times have swooped down and stolen them off of tables and other areas where they had been left unattended.

Someone may have even tried to lamely say, “the birds stole my papers!”, not that anyone would have believed him.

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