The Uniqueness of Israel
Introducing Israel’s 220 Species of Birds
You can find a few articles on this blog about the birds of Israel. That is because the country is home to an incredible 220 species. Some of these are very rare while others are extremely common. Here we shall introduce you to a few more of both, so that you know what to look out for while on your gap year.
One of the largest birds found in Israel, but unfortunately, also one of the rarest, is the griffon vulture. The birds, which are mentioned in the bible, have wingspans of over 8 feet. They primarily feed on carcasses, but they now number just a few dozen. This is for a number of reasons, including hunting, powerline accidents, and the destruction of their natural habitat. However, if you want to see them, then it is still possible in the Judean Desert.
A far smaller bird, but one that is becoming equally rare, is the black-eared wheatear. It spends its summers in the forests of central and northern Israel, and can be identified by its black and white colouring. Until fairly recently they were very easy to see. However, the birds sleep in ravines and under rocks, and as such, they have become threatened by settlement expansion and other changes to the landscape.
If you are prepared to invest the effort, then there is also a chance of seeing golden eagles in Israel. However, today only five to eight pairs remain in the country, down from around 35 to 45 in the 1980s. It is an incredibly impressive bird of prey, but as the country’s human population grows, the numbers are likely to continue declining.
However, there are plenty of birds that it is very easy to find in Israel. For instance, the myna, whose population has been steadily growing in Israel since they escaped their safari cages in the late 1980s. The birds are able to live off manmade rubbish and leftover food. They are a particularly musical bird, and you can hear their song right across the country.
Another bird that has spread after escaping safari cages is the monk parakeet. The bright green birds have plumage that resembles that off a monk’s head. The birds live on fruit and seeds, and there are some concerns that they could cause damage to local agriculture.
Originally found along the coastline, great tits have spread right across Israel following human settlement expansion. The birds, which are easily to spot thanks to their bright yellow body and black and white face, build their nests in pipes, post-boxes, and trees. They are also easy to hear with a distinctive repetitive call.
Blackbirds are also common across Israel, particularly in the forests. Male blackbirds are easy to spot thanks to their black feathers and orange beaks (the females are reddish-brown), and they have a long tail that moves in time with their song. Furthermore, blackbirds are particularly easy to see as they spend a great deal of time on the ground looking for insects and worms to eat.
Here we have discussed just seven types of bird, which means that there are more than 210 additional species for you to try to discover on your gap year.