Sea eagle spotting at the Biesbosch

For a long time, sea eagles were rare winter guests, but these days they have become permanent residents in Dutch nature. This so-called ‘flying door’, with a wing span of two to two and a half meters, does not really like spectators. As such, watching it is no sinecure without thorough preparation. If you do want to see this unique and impressive raptor with your own eyes, travel to NLDelta National Park and take the information and tips below along on your adventure.
Zeearend spotten aan het water
Photo: Bert Ooms


How to recognize this rare and speedy bird
With a wing span so big it covers you in shadows, it is unmistakable when a sea eagle passes above you. This master hunter has a short wedge-shaped tail, long neck, powerful legs and wide, deeply fingered wings. There is a clearly visible difference between adult and younger birds. Mature sea eagles have a white tail, a light-colored head and a yellow hooked bill. Immature sea eagles are darker in color with white spots, a narrow white strip on the inner wing, and a dark bill.Forgot to bring your binoculars? When spotting the sea eagle you can also look for the shape of the wings, which is clearly rectangular.


Where to find them in their natural habitat
There are only a few spots in Dutch nature that comply with the sea eagle’s requirements. Since nature development areas like the Kleine Noordwaard, Zuiderklip and Tongplaat were created, the Biesbosch has become one of them. They can be found year-round in the Noordwaard in particular. There are plenty of ducks, coots, big scaly fish and other animals they hunt, or from which they steal food. The views are panoramic and the trees high enough for the birds to nest, making it a popular place to hunt and nest for sea eagles, and of course perfect for you as a visitor. Please do take care not to disturb the breeding birds, shhtt...


Increase your chances of success with these important spotting tips

  • It may seem self-evident, but visit the right areas
  • Download this map of the Biesbosch with the best spots
  • Go early or late in the day
  • Make as little noise as possible
  • Walk on the pedestrian paths
  • Or join a guided excursion or boat tour
  • Look up to the highest trees. Often this flying door is waiting in a large tree with good opportunities to spot possible prey
  • Pay attention to the behavior of other birds nearby. When other birds take off into the air, the sea eagle is often nearby
  • And… don’t forget your binoculars!


Mission accomplished or sick of staring into the distance?  
Patience is your main tool if you wish to spot a sea eagle. And whether your mission is successful or not, there is usually plenty to see and explore nearby. In addition to many activities and walks, Dordrecht, a multi-faced city, is quite near the sea eagle’s habitat.