Spotting Dutch birds: a bird expedition from your own home

With us all in lockdown, we’re having a moment to take some time to reflect and observe what is around us. 

Something that has always been there, but which you might not have noticed so strongly until now, are the many birds that are now busy nesting around, unphased by the outbreak.

Birdwatching has become a more and more popular pastime for people.

Online resources to get you started

‘Bird Protection is an agency for all things bird-related in the Netherlands. They were one of the first to notice the heightened attention and awareness that people had about birds during the first lockdown.

And honestly, what better season to watch birds than now? With the arrival of spring, not only are the trees and flowers blooming, but many migratory birds are returning from the south.

Bird Protection has even provided a free online course (in Dutch) for all those who want to get to know better the birds in their backyards and the songs they make.

Nevertheless, we’ve also decided to compile our own list about some of the birds you might be seeing in your backyard or from your balcony!

Crows, ravens and other corvids

Crows and ravens have a bad reputation as omens of death, but these cheeky birds are actually among one of the most intelligent animals out there. Problem-solvers and tool-users, observing these birds is bound to surprise you.

Never an omen of death, always a guaranteed good time. Image: Sardaka/Wikimedia Commons

They’re all part of the greater family of corvids, which includes other birds such as the magpie, jackdaws and blue jays.

Crows are social animals and you will see them hanging out in trees and probably judging you for your fashion sense. Ravens on the other hand are cool solitary animals that either hang out alone or in small groups of up to three.

You can distinguish them by size and feathers. Crows are smaller and their feathers are compact on their body, while ravens are much bigger and their feathers are more all over the place and fuzzy around the chest area.

If you have some crows hanging out in your backyard, it might be a good idea to feed them. If they like you enough, they might come back to you with little shiny gifts as an exchange for the food you offered, as it happened to a little girl that’s been getting gifts from crows for many years.


Listen, seagulls are deceptive and evil animals. Under no circumstance attempt to feed a seagull. Why, you may ask? Because the seagull will impolitely swoop down and steal the food you wanted to give to it anyways.

The face of a villain. Image: manfredrichter/needpix

Seagulls are not hard to miss, because they are quite big birds. They’re very recognisable by their distinct sound, which transports everyone who hears it in Miami during the ’80s while wearing Hawaiian shirts.

Overall, the only moment to enjoy a seagull is when it’s swooping down and stealing somebody else’s food.

Rose-ringed parakeet

You might have noticed in your garden a bird that isn’t exactly one you would expect to find. More of a bird that seems to have escaped from someone’s home. The green-feathered and red-beaked parakeet is not even a native species but was introduced accidentally somewhere at the end of the 20th Century.

Quite the beauty, these imported parrots. Image: Mabel Amber, still incognito…/Pixabay

Make no mistake, these parrots are not pets and they’re fully-fledged wild animals. Nevertheless, if you put some seeds in your bird-feeder, they will be more than happy to keep you company.

The house sparrow

Tiny, adaptable and full of sounds, the house sparrow is actually the most widespread bird in the Netherlands, despite its population falling by half since 1980.

Tiny but fierce. Image: Totodu74/Wikimedia Commons

You’ll find this bird in a lot of places in urban settings, and you surely must have had some visiting your garden. Another way to recognize them, besides their tiny bodies, is through their chirping.

That sums up our list of birds you can watch in your garden. There are plenty more to talk to, but we’ll leave that to you to explore.

Any birds you think should be on the list? Let us know in the comments!

Feature Image: Vlad Moca-Grama/Supplied
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in April 2020, but was fully updated in March 2021 for your reading pleasure. 

Vlad Moca-Grama
Vlad Moca-Grama
Vlad was born and raised in Brasov, Romania and came to the Hague to study. When he isn't spending time missing mountains or complaining about the lack of urban exploration locations in the Netherlands, you can find him writing at Dutch Review.

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