Region: Exclusively found within Dalarna County, Sweden
Characteristics: The Blue Dala Quilter - affectionately known as the Swedish
Thief - is one of the only birds in the animal kingdom that uses tools. Unlike its Asian cousin (the Tailorbird) the Quilter does not use natural elements, such as leaves and plant fibers, to build its nests. Instead, the Quilter steals* pieces of fabric, thread, and sewing needles from local craftspeople, and uses those elements to skillfully sew its nest. The assembly of random shapes and
colors of fabric gives each nest the unique look of a patchwork quilt.
The floor of Quilter nests is typically grass and small fabric strips, though it’s not
uncommon to find cotton batting inside. Quilters usually suspend their nests from
tree branches with yarn or decorative ribbon. It is believed that these nests were
the inspiration for modern Christmas ornaments.
The nests are built by a nesting pair, which mate for life. The males are a rich indigo with black beak and wings. The females are light blue with blueish grey wings.
* It could be hardly considered stealing anymore, as it is now traditional for locals to put out all of the materials the birds could wish for, in hopes the Quilter will choose their offering.