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The Domino Day Sparrow might be the most ridiculous thing to ever happen in the Netherlands

A world record attempt. Four million dominoes. A lone sparrow. And a chain of events that led to a devastating (and ridiculous) domino effect.  

Ever heard of the Domino Day Sparrow? It’s a day that’s imprinted into the lives of many Dutchies in a whirling tale of twists and turns. Readers, settle in. 

Now, the Dutch aren’t strangers to ridiculous events, that much we definitely know. Remember the time the Dutch team won the European football championship in the 80s and sank a bunch of houseboats in celebration? 

Or what about the time that the Dutch ate their prime minister? 🤔

Even so, if there’s ever a story to wickedly describe a series of unfortunate events for the Dutch, this will most certainly be it. 

Domino Day in all its glory

It all started with a massive TV production — Domino Day.

The bonanza of the annual event centred around a group of people trying to break the Guinness World Record for domino toppling.

READ MORE | 7 odd Dutch quirks: the stranger side of the Netherlands

Because Dutchies are Dutchies and love this kinda stuff, the TV show was a hit for more than two million people, airing from the late 1990s all the way to 2009.

Down came a bird…and washed the dominoes out

In 2005, they had a huge goal: to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records. The Domino Day team spent weeks assembling a whopping 4 million dominoes in a line.

But then, a cute lil’ bird came calling, and catastrophe shook the lands of Europe.

A house sparrow snuck into the Frisian Expo Centre in the northern city of Leeuwarden, where Domino Day took place, and set off a domino: leading to 23,000 of the 4 million dominos collapsing in what we’re sure was a simultaneously breathtaking and devastating event.

READ MORE | The 21 weirdest things Dutchies don’t realise are only Dutch

Of course, no one messes with the Dutchies and their world records. The domino team called in an animal expert in an attempt to catch the bird and set it free — but it was unsuccessful. 

Instead, this little birdie’s crime ended with a death sentence. 

An employee from Duke Faunabeheer was ordered to terminate the bird. Talk about adding fuel to the flames…

The Domino fans breathed a sigh of relief. “Succes!” they thought. Yet, the drama had only just begun… 

Little bird, big problem

What the producers and Faunabeheer failed to realise is that the tiny sparrow was part of an endangered species in the Netherlands. 

Let’s review: Bird finds domino event. Bird knocks over dominoes. The bird gets shot. Animal activists say — uh-uh. 👎

The commotion that followed was so humongous that it became world news, and both companies went to court for their actions against the domino sparrow.

The official punishment? A €200 fine for illegally killing the bird. The unofficial punishment? A life’s worth of death threats for the Faunabeheer hunter. Yikes! 😬

The now taxidermied bird can be seen on display at an exhibition in the Natuurhistorisch Museum in Rotterdam, with an insane backstory that we’re sure all the other exhibits are jealous of.

What do you think about the sparrow of Domino Day? Tell us in the comments below! 👇

This article was originally published in July 2022, and was fully updated in May 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Dutch Review
Gaelle Salem
Gaelle Salem
Born and raised on the island of Sint Maarten, Gaelle moved to the Netherlands in 2018 to attend university. Still trying to survive the erratic Dutch wind and rain, she has taken up the hobby of buying a new umbrella every month. You can probably find her in the centre of The Hague appreciating the Dutch architecture with a coffee in one hand and a slice of appeltaart in the other.

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