The hibernating regions for water birds shift to the north. Dutch water bird populations always hibernating to the southeast of the Netherlands (Great Britain, France and further to the south) have grown in the past decades. The increase is much stronger than in species traditionally hibernating in the Netherlands or to the northeast of the Netherlands (Baltic Sea region).
Water birds hibernating in the Netherlands
In autumn, winter and spring, large numbers of water birds populate the water-rich regions in the Netherlands. Most water birds come from breeding grounds located to the north or east of the Netherlands. In autumn, they migrate to the southwest to flee the harsh winter conditions.
Due to the current mild winters, there is no need for bird species hibernating to the northeast of the Netherlands to migrate further south.
At the same time, species migrating to the southwest and species traditionally hibernating in the Netherlands more often and for longer periods tend to stay here. This trend emerges from figures presented by the Network Ecological Monitoring.
Protection of bird species
In the last decades, the populations in Western Europe of many species hibernating in the Netherlands have increased. This is mainly due to better protection of wetlands implemented by the international Wetlands Convention and the European Birds directive. With respect to bird species in the northeast, these developments cancel each other out: an increasingly smaller part of a growing population migrate to the Netherlands and as a result, there is no change in terms of numbers.
Leo Soldaat and Menno Hornman (SOVON Vogelonderzoek Nederland)