barn owls nesting 248.88.
(photo credit: )
Israeli migrating birds end up in the
strangest places – even in countries with which it has no diplomatic
A barn owl – one of six – raised in a nesting box on Kibbutz
Kfar Ruppin in the fields of the Beit She’an Valley and freed with an
identifying ring on its leg was caught last week by a boy in Syria 56 kilometers
The birds were ringed by researcher Motti Charter, who was part of
a joint project of Tel Aviv University, the Agriculture Ministry, the
Environmental Protection Ministry and the Society for the Protection of
With Charter at the ringing site was Prof. Alex Roulin of
Switzerland’s University of Lausanne, who is an expert on barn owls and is
cooperating with Israeli researchers. He will be a featured speaker at the
annual Bird Study Day at TAU on Tuesday.
Charter told Roulin that Israel
has the highest concentration in agricultural fields of barn owls in the world.
In the Beit She’an Valley alone, there are around 200 pairs that raise 1,000
nestlings annually – compared to 40 pairs in areas of similar size in Europe.
Barn owls are helpful to farmers as they feed on pests.
TAU bird expert
Dr. Yossi Leshem, who heads the International Center for the Study of Bird
Migration at Latrun, described the incident.
The nature-loving Syrian
boy, whose family breeds pigeons at his home, saw the barn owl trying to attack
his own birds. When he caught it, he noticed the identifying ring from
A friend of his father who is an amateur bird watcher persuaded
him to released the “Israeli” barn owl, and he agreed. The Syrian bird watcher
wrote about the incident on an international birdwatching site, and it was
picked up by bird watchers in the US and England.
Leshem said the Israeli
ringing team members were very excited as they have been working in cooperation
with Jordanian and Palestinian farmers and conservationists for 15 years, but,
as a result of the political situation, have never been able to cooperate with
Syrian farmers and bird watchers.
The Israelis did not contact the boy
because they feared that if the authorities learned of the connection, he would
be in danger.