There is great birdlife right in the heart of Amsterdam and this is no doubt aided by all the canals, trees, plants, and shrubs.
On a 2014 radio programme dedicated to birds and nature and called ‘Vroege Vogels’ in Dutch (Early Birds), they noted that the urban flora & fauna in Holland was becoming increasingly richer. While the fauna is suffering in the countryside due to intense use of the land and insecticides, it is ‘flourishing’ in many Dutch cities thanks to increased respect for flora, trees and ‘green areas’. More ‘green’ and less tarmac has meant more insects & bees, and hence birds too.
Looking at it from a British and Irish point-of-view, we will first list some of the regular birds you will see; the ones that you see back home as well.
But we will also mention some birds that you don’t see regularly in Britain and Ireland, at least not in cities.
You may see
Also: White stork (nests on old industrial chimneys, also in the Vondelpark) and the horrendous ring-necked parakeet, a bird of poisonous green colour that shrieks and tries to take over the city. Rumour has it that the peregrine falcon is particularly partial to these parakeets, finds them tasty morsels.
Swift (you'll hear them in spring and summer, high in the sky above the Weesperzijde for example), it's an evocative sound.
Swallow – barn swallow
Common buzzard – this spring I saw several buzzards flying directly above the city on a few occasions. It's a great sight when there are 3 or 4 of them up there on a clear day. They can fly so incredibly high and those great broad wings are literally ‘way out’.
You'll see grey herons all over town. They stand outside hotels, restaurants and fish-shops, waiting for the leftovers. They'll perch beside canals or other watery places too.
; all are fairly common around the canals.
Possible: kingfisher (in watery places, but not canals)
Look out for: Egyptian goose an alien species– these are rare in other European countries but Holland is full of them, they are a problem in fact.
Amsterdam spring has really arrived when we see mother ducks in the canal with a trail of 7 or 8 chicks hurrying behind. There'll be coots with young as well; their parenting skills are so chaotic that pedestrians often end up hanging over the side of the canal to pop some hapless chick back in a nest. Coots account for plenty of drama. Later there are often swans, moving regally through the water with 4 or 5 cignets in tow.
You may see
among many others
Here are some handy links for visiting twitchers:
These are sometimes partly in Dutch, but if you explore the sites, you'll be able to click on ‘recent sightings’ (recente waarnemingen) and ‘rare sightings’ (recente zeldzaamheden) and ‘just seen’ (net gezien). The results will be in Dutch, but also in Latin so you should be able to work it out. If not, contact us and we will try to put you in touch with some genuine birders.