Category Archives: Europe

Stimulating Dutch Sparrows

Amsterdam members of the Dutch political party GroenLinks (Green Left) want residents and businesses to help stimulate the city’s population of House Sparrows. GroenLinks is asking that new roof construction and roof renovations include sparrow-friendly ‘Vogelvide’ roof tiles.

The number of House Sparrows in the Netherlands has declined by 50% in the last 25 years. GroenLinks is asking Amsterdam to subsidize use of the bird-friendly roof tiles to help with the declining sparrow population.

Sparrows by barockschloss, Creative Commons on Flickr

In 2006, 100 new homes in Noordwijk, Alkmaar, Hardenberg and Amsterdam were fitted with the Vogelvide roof tiles.

Source: Geef de mus een huis in de Amsterdamse binnenstad

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Crested Lark believed extinct in the Netherlands

Thirty years ago, the Crested Lark (kuifleeuwerik in Dutch) was an abundant species in the Netherlands. Today they are much harder to find in the rapidly developing Western European country.

23003 Kuifleeuwerik / Crested Lark
23003 Kuifleeuwerik / Crested Lark by Vlaskop, Creative Commons on Flickr

Thirty years ago there were from three to five thousand breeding pairs of Crested Lark in the Netherlands. Today there are no breeding pairs left, according to Dutch bird research group SOVON. The preferred breeding grounds of the birds – flat, sandy patches – has been rapidly wiped out by industrial and new residential construction.

Source: Kuifleeuwerik verdwijnt uit Nederland

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Orcas to drive away cormorants

The Dutch group Sportvisserij Nederland plans to use recordings of calling killer whales (orcas) to drive away cormorants from some bodies of water. This unique method of bird deterrence, a French concept, will begin a trial run soon in Limburg.

Klotputten by Jos Dielis, Creative Commons on Flickr

Cormorants have no natural enemies in the Netherlands and in recent years their population has boomed. In the last 25 years the number of birds has increased twenty-fold. Management of the cormorants across Europe has been a hot issue for many years, especially for fish management.

High concentrations of cormorant nests are known to kill trees and ruin habitat for other water birds like herons. During several guided birding excursions in Holland, we saw the destruction caused by cormorant invasions and heard of the issues the wildlife managers faced.

Source: Orkageluid moet aalscholver verjagen

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Cold in Netherlands hits birds hard

A bird shelter in Rotterdam was extra busy last week during record cold temperatures. Birds that forage or hunt in Dutch waters were suffering as the canals, ponds and other waterways froze over for the first time in several years. The shelter, Vogelklas Karel Schot, was busy taking care of several swans and herons who were starving with no access to their normal food sources.


Thousands of geese also fled the cold temperatures of Holland and other western European countries last week. Witnesses in Nijmegen last week reported seeing huge numbers of geese fleeing towards the west from the extreme cold in Germany and Poland this winter. The Dutch bird research group SOVON also reported a high number Kingfisher and Bittern deaths in the Netherlands this season.

Sources: Vogelopvang Rotterdam draait overuren and Ganzen op de vlucht voor de kou

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Yellow bags vs. gulls in Leiden

We used to live in Leiden and every year the great gull nuisance controversy made the news (eg here, here, here, here and here)

This year the city has distributed 150,000 yellow trash bags to businesses in the center of Leiden to foil the sharp beaks of the gulls.

In previous years Leiden has tried using falconers to frighten the birds out of the city and several different egg-snatching or -coating schemes, with little result.


Source: Gele vuilniszakken bestand tegen Leidse meeuwe

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Some exciting European twitches

A few rare birds in the UK and Sweden made the news this week. A Snowy Owl attracted twitchers in Cornwall, Britain; a Glaucous-winged Gull is causing crowds near Stockton, Britain; and birders are descending on Stockholm, Sweden to spot a Yellow-browed Bunting.

I really like reading about these great twitches that make the mainstream news. I always get a kick out of the pictures of dozens of birders standing around looking through their bins – fun! Here’s a picture we took of just a few birders photographing a Little Auk on Zuidpier in IJmuiden .

We used to enjoy finding new birds to twitch by using the Dutch site I’m still trying to get the hang of how twitching best works here. The listserv system and sites like eBird and Birdstack seem kind of clunky so far.

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Top birding spots in Holland

Arthur posted his top five birding spots of the Netherlands on our personal blog. They are:

1. Lepelaarplassen, Flevoland
2. De Muy & De Petten on Texel, Noord Holland
3. Starrevaart in Leidschendam, Zuid Holland
4. Zuidpier in IJmuiden, Zuid Holland
5. De Putten, Noord Holland

Those would probably be my top five as well, although I’d put Starrevaart at #1 because we went there so often and it was so close to our home (a pleasant 45 minute bike ride). This is a view over the water at Starrevaart.

Read his post for more info and photos!

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Goldcrest flies amazing 88 miles in 24 hours

Last week Vogeltrekstation Arnhem (central ringing database group) in the Netherlands announced that a Goldcrest had traveled an amazing 142 kilometers (88 miles) in just one night!

The Goldcrest (goudhaantje in Dutch) is one of the smallest songbirds native to the Netherlands. They are between 8.5 and 9.5 cm (3.3 to 3.7 inches) in length.

Goldcrest, Auderghem, Brussels
Goldcrest, Auderghem, Brussels by Frank.Vassen, Creative Commons on Flickr

The event occurred on 26 September when the bird was ringed at 7:45 am in the nature reserve Zwanenwater. The young male bird weighed in at 5.4 grams.

The following morning the same bird was caught again at 9:30 am at a ringing station in Zeeland.

Source: Goudhaantje levert verrassende prestatie

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