For those who haven’t heard of Piip Show: Norwegian photographer Magne Klann worked with model maker Lars Aurtrade to create a birdhouse that looks like a miniature cafe. Magpies, sparrows, finches, nuthatches, and great tits (I heard you snicker) frequent the seed bar, and thanks to a livestream on their website, you could embark on your birdwatcher career with a pleasantly surreal backdrop.
Visiting the Piip Show was something I did every now and then, starting around 1-2 AM EST — meaning 7-8 AM CEST over in Norway. On May 22, 2014 I decided to collect clips of the regulars and share them with The Raptor Lab.
One of the first things you noticed when the cafe loads up is the mess. After watching a few sparrows have a go at the bar, you undestood why. These guys were hunting for something specific — or they’re just jerks.
Those tiny brown sparrows were the most common bird that morning, and they’re quite comfortable sharing the bar with each other. Every now and then, a bird of a different feather would come in and share the room with them, but it would rarely join the sparrows at the bar if one (or three) were already there.
A slightly disappointing fact is that the sparrows, great tits, and equivalent feather friends appeared to be too small to actually sit on the stools while feeding. So when a bird the size of a piebald magpie ventured onto the scene, you were apt to get excited.
Unfortunately, every magpie I’ve watched would go for something on the floor. The black-and-white magpie above was doing a classic “I’LL BREAK IT AND EAT IT AND BREAK IT AND EAT IT” hammerpeck for most of my watch.
Fortunately for you, a bigger bird did come in and sit properly at the bar (though this still means grabbing the edge of the bar with its feet). Lo — the familiar, hunched shoulders of, “Fug off, don’t bother me.”
As of June 5, 2014, the Piip Show ceased broadcasting, but you can find fun, titillating highlights from the past here.
The masterminds behind Piip Show launched another project, called Beep Show, that lets you watch baby birds hatch and grow up into whacky adolescents — all set in a classy, fully furnished apartments. You get all the joy of watching baby birds imbibe a wormy, watery elixir from Mom and Pop’s gullets with the click of a button!
The apartment feed I watched on May 22 switched between two nests, both of which had already hatched. One nest contained small babies, who were simultaneously grumpy and endearing. They weren’t very identifiable at this stage, but according to their lovely, full-fledged parents, they are blue tits.
The lives of these younger chicks were pretty repetitive: they didn’t do much except wait for Mom and Dad to bring more food.
The other nest, in a separate apartment, was occupied by older Great Tit chicks. Despite looking fully capable, they were still greedy needy dependents. Witness their poor parents still working to feed them below:
At the stage that I saw them, the teenagers were on the brink of leaving the apartment — which they did on May 25, a few days after the quirky moments pictured below. You can see that, in the days leading up to their triumphant exit, they were exhibiting all the curiosity and restlessness that any child would need to take that first step away from home.
As briefly mentioned, the teen Great Tits successfully moved out a few days after these gifs on May 25, 2014. The younger Blue Tits recently took flight on June 1, 2014, so the young personalities you may have bonded with here at The Raptor Lab are no longer available for your viewing pleasure.
But the fun doesn’t end! A new nest is on camera now (pied flycatchers, according to the webmasters), so if you’re diligent enough, you can watch the chicks from birth til flight. As of June 5, you can catch the apartment livestream here. If you end up birdwatching on a regular basis, you can share screencaps with the hashtag #nrkpiip on Instagram or Twitter .
*This article has been updated 6/6/2014 to reflect the Beep Show livestream’s new URL.