Foto Friday – Jerusalem Bird Observatory
Not many seats of government can lay claim to being located on one of the world’s prime birdwatching sites. In fact, Israel’s Knesset may be the only one.
The Jerusalem Bird Observatory (JBO) is a 5,000 sqm (one acre) plot of prime real estate, between the Knesset and the Supreme Court. The site is one of the few traditional birdwatching areas in Jerusalem and houses the Israel national center for bird-ringing (also called banding or tagging). Bird migration patterns are studied throughout the seasons, data collected and analyzed in a comprehensive database.
The JBO has four main goals: 1. environmental education, 2. conservation research, 3. eco-tourism, and 4. creation of a common forum for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Educational activities include training courses in tagging birds, courses in photographing birds, birdwatching tours, a birdwatching club, lectures , presentations of current research, and education about bird watching for kids.
The JBO website has an active community of members who upload photos from around the country of rare birds that have been sighted and tagged.
So, for example, on July 1 after a busy day of tagging 40 Green finches and Spectacled Bulbuls, JBO volunteers Ora and Avner met a surprise with bird number 41: an Indian silverbill. The report: “It was molting heavily and not at its prettiest! Nonetheless, a darling bird, tiny as can be, with a sharp bill!”
Volunteer Ron Haran, a talented nature photographer, snapped the finches in action…
and a bulbul, too.
And JBO volunteers Yotam and Yosef from the Zora ringing station, outside Jerusalem, report that — despite the summer heat — preparations for the fall migration are already in place: “The little warblers… are getting fatter and beginning to vacate their nests for their northern cousins who will pass our way in a month en route to Africa. This morning there were the first two European warblers… The first group of storks has settled in the alfalfa fields and we’re awaiting the pelicans.”
They also ringed a Red-rumped swallow…
and a wren.
The JBO is an amazing place and the central location can’t be beat but if you can’t visit right away, check out the website. The list of sighted ring recoveries reported by birders all over Israel makes for a fascinating read. It also serves as a glossary of bird names in Hebrew, English and Latin. That’s how I learned that the bulbul is called that in English, too.