We also know that Israel is the seat of three major world religions. But did you know that Israel is set at an intercontinental junction, making it an important hub for birds?
Every autumn, 500 million birds fly across Israel, a bottleneck for migration routes that attracts some 540 species. To put this in perspective, the American Birding Association counts 976 species in the US -- yet Israel is just the size of New Jersey. With 540 species, there is much to see in one compact place!
Part of Israel’s secret is the country’s biodiversity. With Mount Hermon towering at 2200 meters in the north and the Dead Sea set at 440 meters below sea level (the lowest place on earth), there is an incredible diversity of birds, plants, wildlife and geology.
So if you love bird watching (and love it so much, you consider yourself a twitcher), consider a birding trip to Israel in the fall. The weather is superb – not too hot and not too cold. Skies are bright and deep blue, hosting an impressive array of birds.
Literally a terrestrial bridge, Israel offers birders a chance to view many species of shorebirds, owls, passerines, cranes, hawks, falcons, pelicans, herons, storks, allies, anseriformes and galliformes.
The best birding places are the Hula Valley, including Agamon Park and Hula Nature Reserve, Mt. Hermon, the Golan, Beit She’an valley and the Mediterranean coast.
In fact, all of these places are within a short drive of Tzfat! Just sitting on the roof of Villa Tiferet, you can see elegant storks and cranes circling, cresting upon warm thermal winds. Some 350,000 storks pass over Israel on their way to East Africa, their home for the winter. The fall skies are also filled with white pelicans and cranes. Here is a calendar of birding month by month.
And don’t miss out on an opportunity to bird in the desert. Israel is such a small place, you can fit many diverse habitats (and many birds) into one trip. Be sure to head to the Dead Sea, the Western Negev and Nizzana.
November 20 to 27, 2016 Hula Valley Birds Festival
If you want to be part of the sixth annual bird festival, consider the Hula Valley Birds Festival
Developed by the Israel Ornithological Center, this week-long festival attracts birdwatchers from all over the world and captures the essence of the fall migration. Led by professional birding guides, the festival includes a mobile hide, ringing demonstrations, lectures and a chance to visit the best birding spots in the country.
If you are a birder and have not yet been to Israel to view the bird migrants, add this country to your twitching calendar…you may just add a lifer to your year list!
Israeli Birding Resources