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Birds have fascinated people since the earliest days of civilization and probably far before that. Egyptians would bring mummified ibis into their tombs; the oldest piece of written Dutch text is about birds; and Charles Darwin could only discover the theory of evolution because of his profound interest in the finches of the Galapagos islands. 

In this course we will take a deep dive into what makes these wild animals so fascinating and take interest in the lessons we can learn from them, if we are to find a new balance between nature and human activity. We take an interdisciplinary approach and will invite experts on bird ecology, behavior, evolution, birds in historical and social contexts and perhaps most importantly we will go out into the field to observe avian wildlife in their natural habitats. 

Half of the course is dedicated to a theoretical understanding. The growing knowledge of the over 10.000 wild species worldwide has given us intriguing reflections on animal behavior and a deeper understanding of ecosystem dynamics. More recently, ecologists started to value birds as literal canaries in the coalmine, since they can give early signals of ecological degradation and birds are oftentimes first responders to climate change.

The other half of the course is dedicated to going outside! Situated in an estuary with numerous rivers, forests, swamps and drylands, our country is ultimately suited for many bird species. Especially during the spring migration, bird life gradually commences in February (start of the course) to come to an exhilarating climax towards the month of May (end of the course), with literally millions of birds soaring in the skies above us and landing in the trees and fields around us. We will have ample opportunity to go into nature and improve our own bird watching skills during the field trips we will take in this course. The main teachers are both deeply engaged with birds and will provide you with the most crucial tricks of the birding trade. Binoculars will be provided to you, if needed.


All lectures will take place on-campus and we assume you can be physically present during the scheduled hours. You can find the timetable on Datanose.


Registration is possible for second or higher year students participating in an Honours programme. The registration for the Honours courses will start on December 1, 10 am -  December 5, 11 pm, You can register through the online registration form that will appear on Honoursmodules IIS(registration is NOT through SIS or GLASS).

Please note: There is no guarantee no guarantee for placement if you register after 5 December, so make sure you register on time. You will hear which course(s) you are registered for before 20 december. For questions about registration, please contact us at

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Honours programme
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