Foto Friday – Marco Jona’s borderless birds
This dignified feathered fellow is an Egyptian vulture as captured by photographer Marco Jona who has a passion for nature photography, in particular the migrating birds who pass through our region twice each year.
Bird migration is one area where Israel and her neighbors have had excellent success cooperating on tracking and research. A study, Birds As Peacemakers in the Middle East, the culmination of 15 years of research was released in 2010 and it is well worth reading.
The project got underway in 1996 as research cooperation between the German Ministry of the Environment, the Max Planck Institute, Tel Aviv University (TAU) and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI). Israel’s Ministry of Education set up a website – www.birds.org.il — for schoolchildren to learn about the project, which initially outfitted 120 migrating White Storks on their path from Germany to Africa.
The first phase of the project, entitled “Migrating Birds Know No Borders”, widened the original initiative to include training Palestinian and Jordanian bird ringers, along with educational activities. It was funded by USAID-MERC and led by the International Center for the Study of Bird Migration, established by the SPNI and TAU, the Paletine Wildlife Society and Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature in Jordan.
The European Union joined in the second phase, “For Birds and People in the Jordan Valley”, which developed three field stations in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. But the most extensive project, initiated in 2002, researched the use of barn owls and kestrels as biological pest controllers in agriculture; 200 nesting boxes have been erected in Israel, about 200 in Jordan and 200 are being set up in the PA with plans for another 800 there.
“We feel that the greatest achievement is that the subject of birds that ‘know no boundaries’ has succeeded in building a significant bridge in this war-torn region: teachers and pupils, conservationists, birdwatchers, academic researchers, farmers, people concerned with flight safety and the general public.”
The scientific results of the project — including satellite tracking, research on the effect on radar on bird migration, monitoring of migration by recording bird calls and more — are summarized in the report, as well as a 10-year outlook for what it hopes to do next.
As unrest in the Middle Eastern continues, we can only hope that this regional cooperation can continue spreading word about its good work — making stories like the so-called “Mossad vulture” arrested in Saudi Arabia for being an Israeli spy — a thing of the past. (PS: The charges were false and the accused released). At the very least, it should allow nature lovers like Marco Jona to keep on making captivating images like these.