Spotting Dutch birds: a bird expedition from your own home

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

Birdwatching has become a more popular pastime for Dutchies β€” and with the coronavirus lockdowns having traumatised all of us to the core, we now relish the moments where we can spend time in the great outdoors, reflecting and observing the nature around us.

Online resources to get you started

Vogelbescherming Nederland (Bird Protection Netherlands) is an agency for all things bird-related in the Netherlands.

This organisation was one of the first to notice the heightened attention and awareness that people had about birds during the first infamous coronavirus lockdowns (many moons ago).

READ MORE | Bird watching in Amsterdam – how many birds can you see from your balcony?

Bird Protection has even provided a free online course (in Dutch) for those interested in getting to know the birds in their backyards a little better and the beautiful songs they make.

Nevertheless, we’ve also decided to compile our own list of some birds you might be seeing in your backyard β€” or perhaps even from your kleine balcony!

Crows, ravens, and other corvids

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

black-crow-in-nature
Known for being intelligent, hanging out in trees, and their extra loud and often irritable “caw”. Image: Depositphotos

These birds are 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 (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.

READ MORE | The 8 greatest forests in the Netherlands for a nature escape

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 even come back to you with little shiny gifts in exchange for the food you offered. (We’re not joking. It happened to a little girl that’s been getting gifts from crows for many years).

Seagulls

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 (ungrateful vultures πŸ˜‘).

photo-seagull
The face of a villain. Image: Depositphotos

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 to Miami during the ’80s while wearing Hawaiian shirts.

Overall, the only enjoyable moment you might encounter with a seagull is when you can get a good laugh out when it swoops down and steals somebody else’s food.

Rose-ringed parakeet

You might have noticed a bird in your garden that isn’t exactly one you would expect to find β€” more like a bird that seems to have escaped from someone’s home.

The green-feathered and red-beaked parakeet isn’t even a native species but was actually introduced accidentally somewhere at the end of the 20th Century.

photo-rose-ringed-parakeet
Quite the beauty…these imported parrots. Image: Pixabay

Make no mistake, these parrots are not pets but actually full-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.

house-sparrow
A familiar face amongst the Dutch crowd. Image: Depositphotos

The sparrow species is actually quite renowned in the Netherlands, but not just for being the most common bird in Dutch gardens. Ever heard of Domino Day? Well, this little fellow plays a major role in one ridiculous yet tragic event.

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

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 recognise 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 for you to explore.

Are there any birds you think should be on the list? Tell us in the comments below! πŸ‘‡

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in April 2020, and was fully updated in August 2022 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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