Greenfinches at sunflowers

This 21 November 2017 video is about greenfinches eating sunflower seeds in Roegwold village in Groningen province in the Netherlands.

Matthijs van Eerden made this video.


Birds helping other birds’ offspring, new study

This video from the USA says about itself:

19 October 2017

This educational video is made in the spirit of a children’s show and tries to instill lessons about how to live well, using teachings about how birds get airborne, why they fly in Vs, and how they can be altruistic. This project was created by Arianna O., Kyle D., Natalie D., and Spencer S. for “Birds, Ecosystems, and People,” Fall 2017 at Allegheny College.

From the University of Groningen in the Netherlands:

Birds without own brood help other birds with parenting, but not selflessly

October 23, 2017

Birds will sometimes care for the offspring of other birds of their own species if they anticipate future benefits. Being tolerated in another bird’s territory and the chance to inherit that territory later are considered rewards for which some birds are willing to postpone their own chance of reproduction. On 23 October 2017 veni researcher Sjouke Kingma from the University of Groningen has published an article on this subject in Nature Communications.

In almost ten percent of bird species around the world, certain individuals postpone their own chance of reproduction to help birds of the same species to care for their offspring. This behaviour has also been observed in certain mammals, fish and insects. Since the days of Charles Darwin, biologists have assumed that all creatures are selfish, and do everything they can to maximize the chance of passing their genes to their offspring. So why do some birds sacrifice themselves for the sake of others? What do they gain by not producing their own brood and wasting energy to help others?


One hypothesis is that they only help their relations, i.e. younger brothers and sisters with whom they share their genes. This is thought to be a way for the helpers to pass on their genes, without reproducing themselves. In a recent study, evolutionary biologist Sjouke Kingma refutes this widely accepted vision by showing that these individuals are also trying to improve their own future prospects. Kingma compared 44 species of birds, some of which help other birds while denying themselves their own brood. Although some birds only help family members, his research showed that a lot of birds are even more keen to help non-family members if they stand to inherit their territory in the future.


Kingma concludes: ‘Birds see their territory in the same way as we see our house. Some species of “home-owners” allow other birds to live in their territory and help them to care for their offspring. This may seem logical if the birds living in the same territory and helping each other are related. But this isn’t always the case.

My research reveals that the home-owners get much more help if the helpers stand to inherit their territory in the future. After all, you’d be much more inclined to help someone maintain their home if you thought you’d inherit it one day. This is precisely what a lot of birds do: they help the current owner so that the territory will be worth more when they inherit it.’

Future helpers

Kingma sees two benefits in this principle. ‘Showing that you’re prepared to help increases the chance that the nesting pair will tolerate you in their territory, which may ensure that you inherit the territory later on. In addition, if you help with the current owners’ kids, you’ll create your own future little helpers. By the time the territory is handed over, the helpful bird will have its own army of little helpers ready and willing to assist.’


The concept of helping each other is not strange to humans, but biologists have been puzzling about why wild animals would do this. This research shows that animals are capable of planning and modifying their behaviour to achieve future goals.

Baillon’s crake nesting season video

This 28 September 2017 video is about this year’s Baillon’s crake nesting season in the Zuidlaardermeer lake nature reserve in Groningen province in the Netherlands.

Several couples of these rare birds nested there this summer. One couple had at least four chicks.

Gerrit Kiekenbos made this video.

White storks, roe deer and redstart

This video is called Redstart Female on The Isles of Scilly.

Yesterday, 18 August 2017 from the train just before Zwolle, two white storks in a meadow.

Later, in Drenthe province, three white storks.

As we arrived in Losdorp in Groningen province, green-veined butterflies in the garden. A roe deer passed.

This morning, great tits at the feeders. And a female redstart sitting on a garden chair.

Roe deer swimming

This 4 August 2017 is about a male roe deer swimming. A bit later, the deer landed and disappeared into bushes.

Marja Sjouw made this video near Groningen city in the Netherlands.

Young pallid harriers doing well

Four young pallid harriers

This 25 July 2017 photo from Groningen province in the Netherlands is by Thijs Glastra. It shows four young female pallid harriers. They fledged recently from the first west European nest ever of these rare eastern European and Asian birds.

Now that they can fly, these young birds are preparing for their fall migration to Africa.

Buzzard in backyard

Buzzard, July 2017

This July 2017 photo shows a buzzard with a ring.

Crows had harassed this bird, which resulted in the buzzard colliding against a window in Losdorp village in Groningen province in the Netherlands.

After a long time of recovering from the impact, the buzzard flew away; like had happened a year ago with a nuthatch.