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Link: • Johan Otto Hagström to Carl Linnaeus, 23 March 1753 n.s.
Dated 23 mars 1753. Sent from Härnösand (Sweden) to (). Written in Swedish.


Johan Otto HagströmHagström, Johan Otto
(1716-1792). Swedish. Physician and
naturalist. Linnaeus’s student. Linnaeus
wrote the introduction to his Pan
(1768), on bee-pollinated
flowers. He was one of the tutors of
Carl Linnaeus the Younger. Correspondent
of Linnaeus.
writes that, during the period he was in Jämtland at the command of His Majesty, he was able to make some observations of the Siberian Jay, a bird with amusing habits similar to those of the squirrel among quadrupeds. Hagström was able to snare 4 or 5 of these Jays, but only one was alive and which Hagström kept in a cage for three months, feeding it on juniper berries, figs, raisons, fresh fish, sometimes raw sometimes fried, sometimes boiled. Regardless of which sort of fish the bird ate, it was with good appetite, particularly when given pike, perch, perch-pike and char. Meat, both raw and boiled, was eaten with pleasure by the Jay, eating 4 of its own species in addition to two magpies and a number of sparrows, which were eaten down to the bone. Branches of spruce were placed in the cage on a sand bed and when the bird was given more meat than could be eaten immediately the rest was hidden under the branches until hunger again made itself felt. As regards water, the bird drank more than a “jumfru”, where four “jumfru” made a quart, and four quarts a can. Among birds, the Jay is the most inquisitive, daring and comic. It has several sounds, sometimes like an infant, particularly when seeing fire, sometimes like a puppy, sometimes whimpering sometimes laughing.

Among the local inhabitants in the provinces of Medelpad, Ångermanland and Jämtland, perhaps also elsewhere, there is a superstition that there is a creature called the Skogs-Kärringen [Old Woman of the Forest] that can transform itself into whatever form it wants. Hagström heard a lot about this as a child but had only heard the noise made by the creature, usually at night but rarely other than when there was the light of a fire in the forest. Hagström thought it remarkable that the bird was so rarely heard during the day but so much more at night. When the farmers went to their shielings [summer pastures] in the autumn they make fires in the evenings out in the open and as soon as the Jay saw the light from the fire it started to laugh, which the farmers interpret to be the laugh of the Old Woman of the Forest.

In closing, Hagström tells Linnaeus that a few days before Christmas in 1752 a lamb was born at Frösön with one mouth, one tongue, one belly, one back and one anus, but two lungs, two hearts, two windpipes, two brains, four eyes, four ears and eight feet. The wench who happened to be the midwife pulled off three of the feet during


a. (LS, VI, 100-101). [1] [2]


1. Bref och skrifvelser (1912), vol. I:6, p. 250-251   p.250  p.251.