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Rare feathered friends pay a visit

The skies over Switzerland are experiencing an influx of some exceptional guests – Scandinavian waxwings.

Experts at the Swiss Ornithological Institute in Sempach, in central Switzerland, said on Wednesday that they had received more than 300 reports of sightings from across the country in the past few weeks.

The birds were first spotted in eastern Switzerland, but have since spread throughout the country. Ornithologists are calling the rare Nordic visitor a welcome belated Christmas gift for bird watchers.

The berry-eating birds have soft, silky plumage and congregate around gardens, parks, hedges and orchards.

Although they are welcome visitors now, in the Middle Ages they were believed to be omens for wars and epidemics.

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