Category Archives: Europe

Video: White Wagtail scooting around

Last month we visited the Loire Valley region of France. We stayed in Bourguiel and visited several chateaux, including Cheverny, which has huge lawns around it. We saw lots of Wagtails there, scooting around looking for food. I took this video of one doing a really great Roadrunner impersonation.

If you click on the video you can watch a hi-res version on YouTube.

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Bird Beer Labels in Wine Country

We’re in Bourgueil, France, which is a village in the Loire Valley known for fine red wines. But when we were out shopping today we picked up two brands of beer we couldn’t resist.

First we found Britt, from a brewer in Brittany, featuring an iconic bird of the region on the label, the Atlantic Puffin. There is even a puffin on the cap!

Britt Beer Pack

Britt Beer Label

Britt Beer Caps

Britt Beer Bottles

We also found La Becasse, which is actually a Belgian kriek (cherry beer), with a Eurasian Woodcock on the label. La Becasse is the French name for Eurasian Woodcock.

La Becasse Beer Pack

La Becasse Beer Closeup

La Becasse Caps

La Becasse Beer Bottles

We haven’t tried them yet (we’re drinking wine, duh!)

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Pelican escapes Amsterdam zoo

Wednesday morning a White Pelican escaped from the Artis Zoo in Amsterdam. White Pelicans are native to Russia, Eastern Europe and Africa. According to a zoo spokesperson, although Amsterdam is not an ideal habitat for a White Pelican, the bird should be able to survive in the wild.

Great White Pelican
Great White Pelican by ~Shanth, Creative Commons on Flickr

In 2005 another Pelican escaped from Artis. The bird left the area and settled in Friesland, in the north of the Netherlands. The Pelican thrived at first but later fell into ill health and the zoo was able to recapture it and return it to Artis.

Source: Pelikaan gevlogen uit Artis

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Giant birds running wild in Germany

Six Nandus escaped from a farm in Germany eight years ago and began to breed in the wild. The Nandu is also known as the Rhea and stands five feet or taller and weighs 70 lbs or more. They are native to South America and are sometimes referred to as the American Ostrich.

The group of at least 30 feral birds is breeding in a nature reserve south of Luebeck. There is little doubt they are having an adverse affect on native wildlife, but as of now it is illegal to shoot or hunt them. The flightless birds are expanding their range towards the east. Read more here.

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Posted in Europe, Invasive / Non-native, Offbeat | 1 Comment

After 30 years Boreal Owl breeds in the Netherlands

The Boreal Owl (aka Tengnmalm’s Owl) has raised a brood in the Netherlands for the first time in 30 years, according to the Dutch Forestry Department (Staatsbosbeheer). The Boreal Owl is about the same size as the Little Owl, which is common in the Netherlands.

In 1971 a dead Boreal Owl was found in the Netherlands, and in 1974 and 1977 unsuccessful Boreal Owl nests were seen in the country. Since the mid-1980’s male Boreal Owls have been heard calling, although none had been seen. After a group of interested birders reported hearing males and possibly females calling, the Dutch Forestry Dept. blocked off an area of forest. In April a nest was discovered although both chicks were killed by birds of prey. A second nest was found in June, where apparently at least two chicks survived to fledge.

Source: Na 30 jaar weer ruigpootuil geboren in Nederland

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Feral Raccoons Threaten Dutch Birds

The increasing population of wild, feral raccoons living in the Netherlands is a serious threat to Dutch bird life, according to AAP, a sanctuary for exotic animals. The center, located in Almere, is currently caring for over 20 raccoons, its maximum capacity.

Raccoons are an invasive species not native to Europe. Groups are established in the wild in Drenthe, Groningen, and other locations. They are omnivorous, eating everything from shellfish to fruit. They also dine on the eggs of prairire birds, waders and waterfowl.

The masked animals are descendants of escaped or released pets, many originating in Germany.

Source: Wasberen serieuze bedreiging voor weidevogels

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Foto Friday: Gannet in rehab

Earlier this week we visited the Dutch Wadden island Texel. We spent some time at Ecomare, a visitor center and natural history museum that also has a seal and wild bird shelter. There were several Gannets in the bird enclosure, like this one:

Seven of the Gannets at Ecomare are permanent residents. They help newcomers deal with the stress of being in ‘rehab’. There were four other Gannets in the enclosure that will be released when they are healthy.

Read more about our visit to Texel on our personal blog.

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Foto Friday: Storks in Alsace-Lorraine

A program to reintroduce the White Stork to the Alsace-Lorraine region of France has been deemed a success. The program was highlighted in a recent Washington Post article.

Here is a picture of stork nests in Munster, in the heart of the region, we took on a recent trip there.

The stork has long been a symbol of the region but the population dwindled down to fewer than nine pairs 25 years ago. It was great to see the bird thriving in Munster. The bird has even inspired a Stork Theme Park nearby. The English page seems to be broken, but check out the pictures on the French page. Yes, that is a stork nest roller coaster pictured in the upper right.

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The Mystery of the Orange Spoonbill

An orange-colored Eurasian Spoonbill has been spotted on the Dutch Wadden Island of Texel. Eurasian Spoonbills are normally white.

The strangely-colored Spoonbill has been identified by Vogelbescherming, the Dutch partner of BirdLife International, but the reason for its coloring is a mystery. Shrimps, which cause the pinkish coloring in Roseate Spoonbills, Flamingos and other species, are also part of the diet of Eurasian Spoonbills in the Netherlands. However, the birds here normally do not eat the part of the shrimp which gives the coloring. Did this bird eat that part of some shrimp?

The orange Spoonbill was discovered during the height of the Netherlands’s football (soccer) frenzy as they advanced to the second round in the Euro 2008 championship. During this time people decorate their homes, gardens, cars and selves in orange, the national color (from the royal House of Orange). Another theory as to the orange coloring is that this individual bird came in contact with some orange substance – dye, powder, or makeup – and during regular preening managed to spread the coloring over the entire body. If this is the case, was the contact accidental, or did someone deliberately dye this bird Oranje?

Oranje lepelaar op Texel
Logboek at

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Foto Friday: pre-fledge Common Kestrel

This week’s photo was captured from the Beleef de Lente kestrel cam a few minutes ago. I didn’t get much work done this afternoon because I’ve been watching a few of the chicks take turns sitting on the ledge, watching their parents fly by, nipping at bugs and preening in the wind. I’m hoping to see a fledge – I’ve got six chances.

Common Kestrel juvenile in the Netherlands

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