Israel’s feathered tourists

Birds  (photo credit: Itsik Marom)
(photo credit: Itsik Marom)
It is a known fact that Israel acts as a crossroads connecting the three continents of Africa, Asia and Europe.
Although this “bridge” does not yet function effectively for the people who inhabit our region, in the natural world it works wonderfully – especially with birds, who do not know about borders and countries.
Birds want to travel from north to south and back when nature tells them.
The spring months, starting in late February and ending in May, lead millions of birds to cross the bridge, getting back from Africa to Europe and Northwest Asia.
Big and small, young and old, male and female, every specimen that can fly will join the others in great flocks or independently, flying north.
The geographical map is burned deep into a bird’s little mind by its ancestors’ evolution and experience. This map is clear as daylight, even when flying is done at night during the big spring migration. The thousands of kilometers to be traversed, depending on the final destination, and the many hazards along the way, will not deter even the smallest bird from starting its journey.
Many migrating birds will fail to reach their target. However, most of them will succeed.
For Israel, the most important fact is that the birds would not be able to complete their journey without a friendly host. And we are their gas station and rest stop. Here, they stop to rest and partake of a nutritious meal that will give them the energy they need for the rest of their journey.
Not only is their stopover here essential, it must also include certain conditions. This welcome break in their journey must be free of the fear of hunters, completed in the birds’ own time, and made up of different natural habitats.
The birds cannot find everything they need in the Mediterranean Sea to the west of us, nor to our east in the dry Jordanian desert. That is why Israel was chosen as their “bridge,” able to provide all the conditions vital for a successful migration.
We have to make sure to save and nurture some undisturbed natural areas just for these feathered tourists – in the hope that we will see them back again during the fall migration.
Itsik Marom is a wildlife and nature photographer. More of his work can be seen at