Category Archives: Europe

Belgian BirdLife Tries To Help Starving Vultures

On Monday the Vlaanders chapter of BirdLife International left 200 kilograms of pig meat in a field in Ninove, outside of Brussels, in an attempt to feed the large groups of Eurasian Griffon Vultures that have invaded the lowlands in recent days. The birds normally live in southern Spain but have flown as far north as Friesland in Holland in a desperate search for food.

BirdLife Vlaanders hoped the birds would feed on the meat and gain strength for their eventual return to Spain. Unfortunately the vultures did not discover the meat and continued their flight north.

Flemish Environment Minister Kris Peeters vocally opposed the plan and intended to meat with BirdLife representatives on Tuesday.

The Belgian Farmer Trade Union (ABS) also opposed the plan and planned to file a complaint with the Belgian federal food agency. According to the ABS, it is illegal to dump such animal products in a field without a permit.

EU regulations were recently put into place to disallow farmers to leave cattle carcasses on their land. A shortage of food for the scavenging Eurasian Griffon Vultures has meant that the birds are venturing far from their home but with little hope of finding suitable carrion on which to feed. The regulations were put into place to prevent the spread of diseases among cattle such as botulism, BSE and other illnesses.

Source: Belgische boeren boos over voeren gieren

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Europe | Leave a comment

Eurasian Griffon Vulture Invasion Continues

Yesterday sightings of Eurasian Griffon Vultures continued to pour in from throughout the Netherlands.

Sightings Tuesday came from seven provinces: Noord Brabant, Noord Holland, Gelderland, Utrecht, Zuid Holland, Friesland and Limburg. The most sightings noted on (also in English) were in Noord Brabant. In all over 100 different sightings were recorded throughout the day.

Source: Vale gieren blijven hangen in Brabant

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Aside, Netherlands | Leave a comment

Eurasian Griffon Vultures Invade Holland

Last Sunday a large group of Eurasian Griffon Vultures was spotted in Belgium. On Monday the first birds, a group of 40, flew over the Dutch border. Many more followed.

It is highly unusual to have such a large group of these raptors in the Lowlands. The vultures that have been spotted in the Netherlands normally live in southern Spain.

In 2003 a group of 18 Eurasian Griffon Vultures were seen in Holland. Over Tilburg earlier this week a group of as many as 60 individuals was noted, and another group of approximately 50 birds was seen at about the same time in Zeeland.

Thousands of breeding vulture pairs live in the Spanish Pyrenees. The Spanish birds are struggling to find food in their native land. Due to new EU regulations, cattle cadavers may no longer be left outside to deteriorate naturally. The scavenger birds have been venturing outside of their normal habitat in a desperate search for food.

In May Spanish media reported that starving vultures in the Burgos province were attacking living cattle. In one case a hundred vultures killed a cow and calf. The Dutch BirdLife group does not expect the same to happen in Holland, although the 2003 invaders did kill several young storks.

Dutch birdwatchers have been out in force, noting their sightings of the rare birds at (also available in English) and causing site response time problems due to high traffic. Birders can note the time and place of a sighting, number of birds seen and include GPS coordinates, photos and comments with their sightings.

Source: De gieren komen eraan!

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Netherlands | Leave a comment

Buzzards Attack Pedestrians

A pair of Common Buzzards has been causing problems for pedestrians, joggers and cyclists visiting or passing the KNVB sport park in Zeist, the Netherlands. Earlier this month a jogger was attacked by the birds and suffered a head wound where one of the birds’ talons made contact.

The buzzard pair has a nest nearby with recently hatched chicks. The parent birds aggressively protect their territory if they feel their nest is under threat.

A speed cyclist, Henk Kools from Waspik, was also attacked by the birds as he rode past the area. The attack left him with three wounds in his neck and a deep scratch in his helmet.

The local government planned to put up signs to warn people visiting the area.

Source: Buizerds vallen passanten aan

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Netherlands, Offbeat | Leave a comment

Dutch Pigeon Fancier Performs Illegal Vaccinations

A pigeon fancier from the Dutch province of Gelderland has been questioned in connection with illegal vaccinations performed on racing and hobby pigeons. The man was caught red-handed by agents from the Dutch Agriculture Ministry last week.

The man presented himself as a veterinarian to fellow pigeon fanciers and told the authorities that he performed over 12,000 vaccinations per year at a cost of EUR 0.55 per bird.

The birds, belonging to more than fifty different owners, were vaccinated against the paramyxovirus. Pigeons are required to have this injection annually, but it must be done by a trained veterinarian.

The man has been charged with violating animal medicine statutes and with forgery for providing documents to the pigeon owners proving their birds had been vaccinated. A veterinary practice, which may have provided supplies to the accused man, is also being investigated in connection with the case.

Source: Duivenhouder doet zich voor als dierenarts

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Netherlands, Offbeat, Pigeons! | Leave a comment

Unused Tower Becomes Common Swift Apartment Complex

Conservation group ‘De Krimpenerwaard’ of the Netherlands is planning a unique project to help the local Common Swift population. Eighty swift nest boxes have been placed on an unused fire department tower in the village of Krimpen aan den IJssel.

The program is unique in the Netherlands. The group hopes that the nest boxes will encourage a large colony of breeding swifts to make the tower their home. The artificial nesting sites are needed because new home construction methods leave few traditional nesting sites for the birds.

The group began placing the nest boxes on the tower in 2005. The nest boxes were opened for the swift population in May 2007.

SOURCE: Brandweertoren wordt ‘gierzwaluwflat’

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Netherlands, Offbeat | Leave a comment

Cormorant Numbers Declining In Dutch Wetland

In the past few decades the number of Cormorants in the Naardermeer wetland area of northern Holland has declined dramatically. In the 1980’s there were five thousand pairs of birds breeding in the area. Today there are just over 1000 pairs.

Cormorants brood in colonies in the Naardermeer area. They feed in deeper water, such as the Markermeer, which has become too turbulent for the birds to fish and hunt.

According to experts, the mass exodus from the Nardermeer by Cormorants has little impact on the Dutch population as a whole. In other areas the number of breeding pairs has increased, leaving the population of Cormorants in the Netherlands relatively stable.

Cormorants dive up to twenty meters below the water’s surface to search for food. The bird lacks the glossy fat that most diving ducks have, which allows it to dive deep underwater but leaves the birds soaking wet upon returning to the surface. Therefore when they are done feeding, Cormorants need to dry their feathers, which they do by standing with their wings spread-eagle in the sun and wind.

Source: Aalscholvers vertrekken massaal uit het Naardermeer

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Netherlands | Leave a comment

New Dutch Reserve Area Ready For Breeding Birds

The Dutch environmental group Natuurmonumenten has prepared an area in the Voorsterbos woods of Flevoland as an idea breeding zone for birds. The area, called Zwarte Hoek, or Black Corner, is 28 hectares.

Over the past winter excavating machines released water into the area. Over 26,000 square meters of earth was moved in order to make shallow ponds and streams – ideal feeding grounds for wading birds.

Visitors can view the new area from a bird hide placed on the Zwartemeerdijk.

Source: Zwarte Hoek na aanpassingen optimaal voor weidevogels

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Netherlands | Leave a comment

Dutch Hatchlings Too Late For Caterpillars

The butterfly season in the Netherlands began about three weeks earlier than normal due to record high spring temperatures. Migratory birds that breed in the Netherlands will hatch their chicks too late to feed on caterpillars, and may suffer from lack of suitable food.

Information about the butterfly situation was published by a group from the Wageningen University that prepares a Nature Calendar each year. The calendar is used to report the progress of certain species.

Migratory birds like wheatears, cuckoos and swallows rely on abundant supplies of caterpillars each spring to feed their young. Most baby birds will hatch too late this year, after the caterpillars have already become butterflies.

Source: Jonge vogels missen rupsen

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Netherlands | Leave a comment

Imported Meat Responsible For UK Bird Flu

A report by the UK Dept. for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) exonerated wild birds as the cause of the 2006 outbreak of H5N1 in Suffolk.

The DEFRA report states in part: “There was no evidence to support the hypothesis that wild birds were the source of the outbreak. This was based on the fact that there had been no isolations of H5N1 from wild birds in Europe during the 2006/7 wild bird migration period and subsequent residency”

Read more about the DEFRA report.

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Aside, Europe | 1 Comment