Every spring, 500 million migrating birds fly over Israel as they make their way back to the northern hemisphere after spending the summer in the warmer, southern part of the globe. This is due to Israel’s geographic location as a land bridge connecting Africa, Asia and Europe.
This phenomenon makes Israel one of the best places in the world for bird watching, especially during the spring and fall migration seasons, when non-native birds like white storks and pelicans, that spend the majority of their time in other places, make a brief stop in Israel. After flying over the Sahara desert, the birds stop in Israel, where they have better access to food and water.
Places like Eilat in southern Israel and the Hula Lake in northern Israel attract large flocks of resting birds in the spring and fall migration seasons, along with bird watchers from all over the world. While it does not attract as large of flocks, the Nili and David Jerusalem Bird Observatory, located in one of the city’s key green spaces, between the government quarter and Gan Sacher, is also one of the places migrating birds land and rest.
Witness seasonal migration at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory
The Jerusalem Bird Observatory is unique because it is one of the country’s only urban bird and wildlife sanctuaries. Its pond and numerous fruit trees make it an appealing place for migrating birds to stop, as well as for local birds to spend time. In the spring, special nets catch– but do not hurt— some of the migrating birds. Staff at the bird center can then put rings on their legs to track their movements for research during their migration journey.
During the months of March through May, visitors can watch this ringing process each morning from dawn until about 10 a.m. Staff are happy to tell visitors about each each bird species and answer any questions.
In addition to watching staff ring the birds, visitors can spend time in the half-open building known as a bird “hide,” where they can sit on benches and look out over the pond and trees, spotting birds in the environment. There is also a visitors center with information about birds, an art gallery and a gift shop at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory.
Events at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory
Although bird migration season is special, it is not the only time worth visiting the Jerusalem Bird Observatory. The site is open all year, and always offers a peaceful place to enjoy birds and nature. It is free and open daily, including on Saturdays. A visit here is easily paired with a tour of the Knesset, or trip to Gan Sacher park, as the site is walkable from both of these places.Other special events offered at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory include lectures, hikes and educational activities for children and families. This website, as well as the observatory’s Facebook page list those events.