Israel’s location at the heart of the only land corridor between Europe and Africa, and its status as a world biodiversity hotspot, makes it a world-class center for bird watching.

Two bird-watching events in the spring

 

Copyright: Itamar Grinberg, courtesy Ministry of Tourism

(Israel Ministry of Tourism)

Each year over 500 million birds flood the sky over the African-Eurasian flyway as part of their yearly return journey to and from their nesting grounds, making it the second most important migration route in the world. Israel’s location at the heart of the only land corridor between Europe and Africa, and its status as a world biodiversity hotspot, makes it a world-class center for bird watching. It is the key nexus of the entire journey and over 500 unique species of bird can be spotted as they fuel up and rest after traversing the Sahara Desert.

8th Eilat Spring Migration Festival and Champion

Hundreds of birdwatchers from all over the world are expected to flock, once again, to Israel’s southernmost resort for the 8th Eilat Spring Migration Festival, which will take place 23-30 March 2014.

The festival offers birders the opportunity to combine the spectacle of spring migration at its best with a relaxing vacation in the warm spring sunshine of Eilat on the Red Sea. The weeklong festival includes day and night birding tours to all the best sites in southern Israel, many bird related activities, presentations, talks and more.

Champions of the Flyway

The Israel Ornithological Center, Israel’s largest birding organization, and a branch of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, is organizing the Middle East’s first international bird watching competition. This event, Champions of the Flyway, will be held on April 1, 2014 and will see teams compete to spot the most number of bird species within 24 hours.

This will be the first competitive bird watching competition in Israel, which is well-suited to the challenge given its small size, first class infrastructure and its unique strategic location – the only land bridge between Europe, Asia and Africa that provides the migrating birds with a large variety of habitats and the warm air currents they need for perfect soaring conditions.

Recent studies have discovered that over 40% of long-distance migrants have shown signs of decline over the last three decades. 10% of these species are classified as Globally Threatened or Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, including the majestic Egyptian Vulture and graceful Slender Billed Curlew. As these birds are not limited by international boundaries, conservation efforts must be focused in different countries at key points along their flight paths. Together with Birdlife International, the Israel Ornithological Center is planning to donate all the profits of this event to conservation projects. All teams are expected to raise sponsorship to raise funds for conservation projects throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The Israel Ornithological Center, which operates three bird watching centers in Israel and aims to protect the region’s biodiversity through activities with birds, has recorded more than 540 different species of birds in Israel at various seasons in the year, with over 400 occurring annually – and this despite the fact that the country is only 500 kms long.