Happy Bird Day at Christmas Boy Fûgelhelling Ureterp: ‘A good place for people and animals’

Due to the metrics of Corona and (of all things) bird flu, Fûgelhelling hasn’t been able to celebrate its 45th anniversary in the past two years. Now it is so, in an open day. The official Hetty Cinemas can’t wait to tell visitors all about the wildlife sanctuary.

There is something for everyone during this Happy Bird Day at the Northern Netherlands Wild Shelter. From a behind-the-scenes look through a guided tour, a children’s assault course, various market stalls, a treasure hunt, and the Wheel of Fortune. Entrance is free. The open day is Saturday 4th June from 10am to 4pm.

Vogelasiel De Fûgelhelling was founded in 1975 and initially focused on catching birds of prey. This was soon expanded to all other bird species. However, it wasn’t long before the first mammals were also brought in.

Since 2018, more than 10,000 animals have been taken every year. As the number of animals grows, so does the cost. Think fodder, medicine, transportation costs, heating, lighting, building maintenance, cages, etc. Fûgelhelling receives no financial support from the government, and his income consists only of gifts, contributions from donors, and proceeds from his own actions and activities (shop, guided tours, room rentals, introductions).


Hetty Sinema, director, who has worked at De Fûgelhelling for 21 years, defines growth. “We started with barn owls, and in 2009 there was an exemption for mammals through the quality protocol. We now house 1,500 mammals and 10,000 birds, say 11,500-12000 animals. Unfortunately, there is an upward trend, in part because people are further away from nature, and there are fewer. From reception centers and because of people change. The rural mentality is now, leave nature as it is, and if something goes wrong, well. The interests lie elsewhere. You see that people bring an owl, but not a seagull. But you also sometimes see that human feelings attributed to an animal.

Therefore, the attitude of man to animals is subject to change. “It is important that we keep talking about animal shelters. I am glad we can hold another open day,” says Cinema. “You see there is a shift in the number of zoo animals on display.” “You see more woodpeckers and hawks, and fewer gulls. Two years ago you had an oil catchment with more seabirds. Now we get about 10 percent of the red-listed birds and animals, especially garden birds. This was also due to bird flu and disease among blackbirds. This is not what we mean, but if someone finds an animal, we will provide information. And we can train the animal ambulance. There are all kinds of rules from the ministry. ”


The hedgehog is also the rabbit more often. “We receive about 1,500 annually from the three northern provinces and the upper region of Overijssel. They’ve been injured by lawn mowers, robotic lawn mowers, dogs, or their sleeping quarters may have been disturbed. And of course the many ways. By the way, sometimes the action is taken very quickly when a nest is found. The young are then picked up, but then rejected by the mother.” Further, De Fûgelhelling takes care of rabbits, rabbits, squirrels, mastilates and bats. But any mammal naturally found in the Netherlands can be brought to De Fûgelhelling if shelter is needed.

“You see that it is constantly changing. I like to take people with me and also tell them how beautiful nature is. And you have to learn to enjoy it. Also with a garden, flowering plants, insects and birds. Don’t tile everything and make it taut. And not everything is so scary, like bats,” Cinema notes.

I hope

Nearly the majority of the 70 volunteers have left regular work, are coming from nursery school or are suffering from burnout, for example. “It should be easy for them to clean up here, for example. There are five salaried employees, most of whom work here for just one day.” Cinema has a wish for this reason. We have applied to a trust to renovate the East Wing. This requires 70,000 euros. Unfortunately, this was rejected. It’s also a large elevator with spacious flight cages and quarantine areas. Oh, so much I wish. But it should be a good place for people and animals.

“Due to the broader mission, the name of the Foundation de Vogelhling has been changed to the Foundation de Wegehlehling Wild Shelter in the north of the Netherlands. A shelter for all non-domesticated wild animals in Friesland, Groningen, Drenthe and parts of Overijssel.

If you want to go to De Fûgelhelling on a Saturday, pay attention. Feart is hard to reach due to road works. Part of Hegebrechterleane is closed. This means that the wildlife sanctuary is not accessible from the roundabout in Drachten near the police station. The shelter can be reached from Ureterp via Opgong (direction Leeuwarden exit, A7 Noord exit).

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