Netherlands - Birds of Prey

On this page you will find pictures of birds of prey photographed by me in The Netherlands.

You can scroll down to see all photo's or you can click on the underlined English name in the list (link) to see the respective photo.

  1. Northern Harrier - Blauwe Kiekendief
  2. Eurasian Sparrowhawk - Sperwer
  3. Osprey - Visarend
  4. European Honey-buzzard - Wespendief
  5. White-tailed Eagle - Zeearend
  6. Eurasian Buzzard - Buizerd
  7. Rough-legged Buzzard - Ruigpootbuizerd
  8. Common KestrelTorenvalk
  1. Merlin - Smelleken
  2. Eurasian Hobby - Boomvalk
  3. Tawny Owl - Bosuil
  4. Northern Hawk-Owl - Sperweruil
  5. Long-eared OwlRansuil
  6. Short-eared Owl - Velduil
  7. Little Owl - Steenuil

Northern Harrier
Blauwe Kiekendief
28 January 2011

The Northern or Hen Harrier is relatively long winged and long tailed. Both female (brown) and male (grey) have a distinct white rump.
While holding its long wings in a shallow V in a low flight closely watching the land below, it hunts primarily small mammals and birds.
The adult male is sometimes nicknamed the "Grey Ghost", because of his striking plumage and owl-like facial appearance.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk
1 March 2012

Note the long nails which are characterictic for sparrowhawks. This is a male juvenile. Adult males have bluish grey upperparts and orange-barred underparts; females and juveniles are brown above with brown barring below.
Females are up to 25% larger and 50% heavier than males – one of the largest differences between the sexes in any bird species. Males have thin legs. Males tend to take smaller birds like tits, finches and sparrows; females prefer thrushes and starlings.

Pandion haliaetus haliaetus

Bovenmeent, Hilversum
23 August 2012

There are four subspecies of ospreys, which are separated by geographic region. This is P. h. haliaetus (with a clear breast band) which breeds in Europe, North Africa and Asia (north of the Himalayas) and winters in South Africa, India and the East Indies. The Osprey and owls are the only raptors whose outer toe is reversible, allowing them to grasp their prey with two toes in front and two behind which is particularly helpful when fishing.

European Honey-buzzard
29 July 2010

The male has a blue-grey head, while the female's head is brown. The European Honey Buzzard is a summer migrant to most of Europe and western Asia, wintering in tropical Africa.
It can be distinguished from the similar Eurasian Buzzard by its larger size, longer, broader and rounder tail, longer neck, rather small head, often 2 tail bands + 1 at the very end, no pale band along median coverts looking continuous with pale breast band and it soars on flat wings.

White-tailed Eagle
Biesbosch, Werkendam
15 May 2013

The White-tailed Eagle is considered the fourth largest eagle in the world. They have a characteristic aerial courtship display which culminates in the pair locking claws mid-air and whirling earthwards in a series of spectacular cartwheels.
Some individuals have been found to live over 25 years.

This guy flew right over me while being harassed by a gull.

Eurasian Buzzard
14 February 2012

A great opportunist, it has a varied diet of voles, small rodents, birds, frogs, lizards and can often be seen walking over recently ploughed fields looking for worms and insects.
Most prey are captured after a descent from a perch, but this species also soars to locate potential food, and it also hovers like a Kestrel.

Pairs mate for life.

Rough-legged Buzzard
17 January 2012

Distinguishing characteristics in all (very varied) plumages include long white tail feathers with one or more dark subterminal bands and in light morph individuals a square dark carpal patch contrasting with the white under-wing. Rough-legged Buzzard hovers regularly, much more than the Eurasian Buzzard. In western Europe, it is only seen in winter. It breeds in tundra and taiga habitats. Its feet are feathered to the toes (hence the name) as an adaptation to its arctic home range.

Common Kestrel
Torenvalk (F.t. tinninculus)
19 January 2011

This is a bird of farm land and open areas and mostly known for the way it hovers 10-20 meters above the ground facing into the wind in search of prey. Kestrels are often seen hunting near roads where voles and mice can be abundant. The male Kestrel is distinguished from the female by the grey colouration of the head. 
There are 11 subspecies of the Common Kestrel. This is Falco tinnunculus tinnunculus which is found in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

Maasvlakte, Rotterdam
5 October 2013

The face of the Merlin is less strongly patterned (incl. faint dark malar stripe) than in most other falcons. Light European males can be distinguished from Common Kestrels by their mainly brown wings. Females are usually heavier and bigger than males. Such sexual dimorphism is common among raptors; it allows males and females to hunt different prey animals and decreases the territory size needed to feed a mated pair.

Eurasian Hobby
Bovenmeent, Hilversum
24 August 2012

Close views enable the red "trousers" and vent to be seen. Sexes are similar. In flight it appears sickle-like with its long pointed wings and square tail, often resembling a swift when gliding with folded wings. It will take large insects, such as dragonflies, which it transfers from talons to beak and eats while soaring slowly in circles. Its speed and aerobatic skills enable it to take swallows and even swifts on the wing.

Tawny Owl
Hilversum, 14 December 2014

This nocturnal bird of prey hunts mainly rodents, usually by dropping from a perch to seize its prey, which it swallows whole.
The left ear opening is higher on the head than the larger right ear and tilts downward, improving sensitivity to sounds from below. Small differences in the time of arrival of a sound at each ear enables its source to be pinpointed.
This owl is non-migratory and highly territorial.

Northern Hawk-Owl
4 December 2013

In the last 100 years, this species has only 4 times (1920, 1995, 2005 and 2013) been seen in the Netherlands, so it is extremely rare.
It is a non-migratory owl that usually stays within its breeding range, which is Alaska, Canada, Central Asia, Siberia and Scandinavia.

Long-eared Owl
16 April 2006

The ear-tufts are no ears but are used to make the owl appear larger to other owls while perched. The female is larger in size and darker in coloration than the male. White feathers form an characteristic "X" between the eyes.
An unusual characteristic of this species is that it roosts in groups called ‘owl parliaments’ in dense cover, often in conifers, during the winter months.

Short-eared Owl
25 February 2011

The Short-eared Owl is found in open country and grasslands. Unlike many other owls, short-eared owls can frequently be seen hunting in broad daylight as well as in the early evening. It tends to fly only feet above the ground until swooping down upon its prey which consists mainly of rodents, especially voles. Its yellow-orange eyes are exaggerated by black rings encircling each eye, giving the appearance of them wearing mascara.

Little Owl
22 November 2011

Its white “eyebrows” give it a stern expression.
It is found in open country such as mixed farmland and parkland and has a bounding flight like a woodpecker. It is partly diurnal and often perches prominently during the day. It takes prey such as insects, earthworms, amphibians, but also small birds and mammals. Surprisingly, they occasionally eat plant material and berries. Often little owls return to the same nest location.

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