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February 24, 2022

Bird Watching in Israel

Klara Matusevich (Klaram)  CC BY-SA 2.5 Israel Birding: Passerine in Acre

Klara Matusevich (Klaram)  CC BY-SA 2.5
Passerine in Acre

Israel Birding

An amazing fact about birding in Israel is that one will find completely different species of birds even in places geographically close to each other. Why? It is all due to geological and climate differences. The Golan Heights, close to the Hula Valley, has a completely different terrain. What is especially exciting about bird watching in Israel is that rare and almost extinct migrating birds sometimes show up here.

The Golan in Northern Israel contains an abundance of  freshwater, is sparsely populated, has craggy mountains, and its temperatures range between tropical to temperate. These conditions attract birds that are not found anywhere else in Israel, especially certain kinds of raptors and water fowl. For these reasons, some of the best birding sites are located in northern Israel.

Hula Valley Bird Festival

The Hula Valley, home of the  International Hula Valley Bird Festival, is a watering spot and stop-over for millions of migrating birds and water fowl — such as white pelicansmallard ducks, cormorants, waders, passerines, and kingfishers. About 30,000 cranes winter in the Hula Valley. Israel provides special feeding areas for them to help protect crops in the area. Hula was also the very first nature reserve established in Israel after the initial draining of the Hula swamps to stop malaria. Agamon Hula is an artificial lake that was engineered to restore this area to its former glory and is a paradise for water birds.

Gamla Nature Reserve

Ami Ben Amram  CC BY 2.5 Eagle in Gamla Nature Reserve

Ami Ben Amram  CC BY 2.5
Eagle in Gamla Nature Reserve

The Gamla Nature Reserve in the southern Golan is famous for its population of Griffon Vultures, but is also home to other raptors and birds of prey such as eagles, long-legged buzzards, and vultures. A beautiful canyon and waterfall are also found here. At one time the Griffon Vulture was found all over Israel, but the declining food supply has caused their numbers to substantially decrease. In the south there is a special feeding station for them in Kibbutz Sde Boker.

Mount Hermon is the highest mountain in Israel. Among the many species of birds found here are 17 species unique to the area which breed nowhere else in Israel. Here you can find the Sombre Tit, Rock Bunting, Crimson-winged Finch, Syrian Serin, Black Redstart, Rock Nuthatch, Shore Lark, Rock Thrush, and more.

Bird Watching in Israel: Did You Know?

At the Banias Nature Reserve you can view non-native ring-necked parakeets, which took up residence near this magnificent waterfall in Israel in the 1960s.

Category: Golan, Birding