Birding in Israel 2021: Top Birdwatching Locations in Israel for Ornithologists and Hobbyists
Heinrich Bunting, a German Cartographer, published a map of the world in 1581, which depicted the center of the world in Jerusalem. This is how the migratory birds in the eastern hemisphere see the world, which makes Israel one of the critical birding spots in the world. Notably, Israel lies along what’s known as one of the most important migration flyways in the world.
The country witnesses more than 500 million birds fly over twice a year. Most of these birds are typically coming back or forth from their nesting grounds in Europe and Asia to their wintering nests in Africa. In Israel, these birds find their last food source right before the Sahara Desert, a 5-day flight with no food or water.
An astonishing 550 species of birds can be seen in Israel every year, which is quite impressive. The birdwatching season begins when the Israel weather starts transitioning into winter. While Israel witnesses bird migration for 10 months of the year, winter is the best time for birdwatching. Here are the best spots in Israel for birding.
The International Birdwatching and Research Center in Eilat is rightfully called the mecca of birdwatching around the world. Eilat is located in the Southern Arava Desert, and millions of birds fly through this desert, making it a perfect spot for ornithologists.
The IBRCE specializes in research and monitoring migrant birds and also hosts ecotourism activities for regular folks. The place also hosts the Eilat International Migration Festival in March, one of the most significant bird-watching events in the world.
Eilat is home to one of Israel’s rarest breeding birds called Nubian Nightjar. Other commendable bird species include rosy starlings, black-headed buntings, desert warblers, Spanish sparrows, and crab plovers.
Hula Valley is home to the second most important bird watching event in Israel – Hula Valley Bird Festival in November. To see some of the most beautiful and rare species of birds, try to time your visit with the bird watching event. However, remember that Hula Valley is gorgeous all year round and can be visited any time of the year.
The Hula Valley is located between the Golan Heights and the Naftali Ridge, making it one of the prime birding spots in the country. This makes Hula Valley an essential stopover for any birdwatcher on a trip to Israel. The center also provides birding tours and educational activities to visitors.
Some species that can be seen at the Hula Valley include egrets, black storks, spoonbills, cranes, Pallas’s gulls, black francolin, and Dead Sea sparrow, among many others.
Jerusalem Bird Observatory
The Jerusalem Bird Observatory or JBO is an eco-experience center located in the heart of the capital city. The place is situated between the parliament building and the supreme court of Israel. The observatory offers birdwatching tours, a bird-ringing center, and a birdwatching club.
Visitors can check out collared flycatchers, wrynecks, red-backed shrikes, masked shrikes, Palestine sunbirds, hawfinches, and spectacled bulbuls. The observatory is also home to hoopoe, which is Israel’s national bird.
Ramat Hanegev Birding Center
Located in the Negev Desert, the Ramat Hanegev Birding Center is also counted as one of Israel’s most important Birding centers. One of the rare species in the world, the blue-cheeked bee-eaters, fly over the Negev and nest here.
Other than that, the Ramat HaNegev is home to ten species of raptors, three species of owls, and two species of ravens. These species of birds breed in the Zin Valley cliffs. Other notable species include a sooty falcon, Lanner falcon, barbary falcon, long-legged buzzard, golden eagle, Egyptian vultures, and griffon vultures.
Mount Hermon Summit
Last but not least is the tallest peak in Israel – Mount Hermon. There’s no birding center on the Mount Hermon summit, but it offers sightings of some of the best species of birds. And what’s even better is that birdwatchers only need a pair of binoculars here.
Depending on which season it is, bird watchers will be able to catch sight of western rock nuthatch, Radde’s accentor, short-toed eagle, white-throated robin, western rock nuthatch, and crimson-winged finch, to name a few. Mount Hermon is also home to the horned lark, sombre tit, Syrian serin, Syrian woodpecker, and the long-legged buzzard.
Israel is the place to be for all birdwatchers – ornithologists and hobbyists alike. With over 550 species flying over the country during a year, it’s a paradise for any birder. For a much better experience, try to time your visit with the Eilat International Migration Festival in March and Hula Valley Bird Festival in November.