Join us as we take a closer look at 15 different species of birds of prey that you can spot in the Netherlands.
In this whirlwind tour, we’ll be soaring alongside the brave birds of prey that sweep across the Dutch skies. From the distinguished White-Tailed Eagle to the adorably round-faced Short-Eared Owl, this is a treasure hunt you don’t want to miss. Fasten your seatbelts; it’s time to go cloud-hopping!
Let’s take a look at 15 different species of birds of prey that you can spot in the Netherlands!
1. White-Tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
Also known as ‘The Flying Barn Door’, this raptor is a beast! The White-Tailed Eagle has a colossal wingspan of up to 2.4 meters (8 feet), which is essentially a feathery hang glider. They’re usually spotted around lakes and rivers. Biesbosch National Park is like their favorite cafeteria, where they binge on fish and water birds. Their yellow beak and white tail make them look quite distinguished – like they attended an Ivy League college.
2. Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
The Hen Harrier haunts the fields of the Netherlands, like a graceful ghost. They prefer wide-open areas, including meadows and marshes, where they search for small mammals and birds. They’re best spotted in areas like Lauwersmeer National Park, with their ash-grey plumage for males and brown for females.
3. European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)
This bird is the sweet tooth of the raptor family. The European Honey Buzzard is all about the bees and wasps. Their fortress is the forest, especially those with mixed deciduous trees. These slender birds can be seen in places like Dwingelderveld National Park, raiding nests of wasps and enjoying the honeyed spoils of their escapades.
4. Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
The Eurasian Sparrowhawk is the ninja of Dutch skies. These compact raptors dart through the forests and gardens with agility. Their taste palette includes smaller birds. Males have bluish-grey back and wings, while the ladies flaunt brown shades. Try spotting them in wooded areas like Twente, but good luck – they’re faster than a squirrel on roller skates!
5. European Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
The Kestrel is like a drone in hover mode. It scans the ground for mice and voles, and when it finds its target – bam! You can often spot them hovering near highways or open fields in places like Zeeland.
6. Merlin (Falco columbarius)
The Merlin, a petite but fierce falcon, often winters in the Netherlands. With a dark back and streaked chest, they might seem shy but are actually formidable hunters of small birds. The coastal dunes, such as those in Zuid-Kennemerland National Park, are where they chill during their Dutch holidays.
7. Red Kite (Milvus milvus)
The Red Kite is the flamboyant aerialist of the bird world. With a graceful forked tail and a reddish-brown body, they twist and turn through the sky. Their diet includes everything from small mammals to earthworms. Spot these elegant birds at the Hoge Veluwe National Park, pirouetting like avian ballerinas.
8. Black Kite (Milvus migrans)
Black Kites, with their forked tails and dark plumage, are the rockstars of the raptor world. They scavenge, but also catch live prey. They’re not very common, but keep an eye out in riverine areas like Rhine River Delta. They’re like the mysterious strangers that grace the Dutch lands occasionally.
9. Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
We kick off with the Common Buzzard, which despite the mundane name, is actually a big deal! You’ll recognize them by their rounded wings and short neck. The buffet line for these guys includes rabbits, voles, and sometimes, an assortment of birds and insects. Open countryside and woodlands like the Veluwe are their domains. Look up and you might just see them doing the cha-cha with the wind!
10. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
The Peregrine Falcon is the Top Gun of birds. They can reach speeds of 240 mph in a dive, which makes them one of the fastest creatures on Earth. These falcons prefer a menu of mid-air pigeons and ducks. Keep an eye on cliff sides and even tall buildings in cities like Amsterdam. They might just buzz by like feathered missiles.
11. Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)
With a glare that could curdle milk, the Goshawk is the tough guy in town. They are kings and queens of dense forests, ambushing other birds and mammals with their fearsome talons. Winter is an ideal time to spot them in forests around Apeldoorn, where they reign supreme.
12. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
The Osprey is a fish’s worst nightmare. With talons that could give Freddy Krueger a run for his money, Ospreys dive feet-first into water for fish. The Biesbosch National Park is their haven. Spot them plunging into the water for a seafood dinner.
13. Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
This is no circus act; the Marsh Harrier is a master of the marshlands. Soaring low over reed beds and marshes, these raptors are on the hunt for small mammals, birds, and even amphibians. The Weerribben-Wieden National Park is a good spot to catch their aerial acrobatics.
14. Short-Eared Owl (Asio flammeus)
This little fellow is a daylight hunter. With a permanently surprised expression, the Short-Eared Owl hunts rodents in open country. Visit the Wadden Islands, and you might see these adorable owls going about their business.
15. Rough-Legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus)
Lastly, the Rough-Legged Buzzard makes the winter skies of the Netherlands its home. They come from the Arctic, probably to escape the polar bears. Spot them in open fields and marshlands like Oostvaardersplassen.