Israel Birding Tours
The State of Israel (“Israel” hereafter) is geographically located in Western Asia and is part of the Western Palearctic realm. It is also considered part of Europe. The country is bordered by Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan to the east, the Palestinian territories of West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west respectively, and Egypt to the southwest. The Mediterranean Sea is to the west of the country and the southern tip of Israel, near the famous (at least amongst birders) city of Eilat, abuts the Gulf of Aqaba, part of the Red Sea. Tel Aviv is the economic and technological center of the country. The region is regarded by Jews, Christians, and Muslims as the Holy Land. The country, and the Levant region as a whole, has an ancient human history and is a very interesting subject to read about, and too much detail to go into here!
Israel is a very narrow country, it is 62 miles (100 kilometers) wide and 250 miles (400 kilometers) long, yet despite its small size, the country has some impressive geographic features such as the Negev Desert, the Galilee mountain range, the Jordan Rift Valley (a part of the Great Rift Valley which runs for approximately 4,300 miles (7,000 kilometers), all the way from Lebanon to Mozambique), the River Jordan, the fertile Hula Valley (once the site of a vast freshwater lake), the Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea (the lowest point on the surface of Earth).
According to International Ornithological Congress (IOC) taxonomy (v10.2 in January 2021), the Israel bird list stands at 587 species, 34 of these are considered to be globally threatened. One of the incredible things about birds and birding in Israel is what happens during the migration seasons (spring and fall/autumn) when over 500 million birds (that is not a typo, it is five hundred million birds!) pass through the country during each season. The migration is a phenomenal sight to observe and really is something you must see at least once in your lifetime, it will not be forgotten but warning, it is addictive! We are currently offering customized tours to Israel, so if you are interested in joining us here, please get in touch. These custom trips can be to target specific key species of the region, or to just marvel in the wonder that is visible migration.
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Israel offers the best, or only chance, for several great birds in the Western Palearctic, with highlights from a visit here likely to include Sand Partridge, Egyptian Nightjar, Nubian Nightjar, Macqueen’s Bustard, Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse, Namaqua Dove, Demoiselle Crane, Common Crane, White-eyed Gull, Black Stork, White Stork, a myriad of shorebird species, 37 species of birds of prey (and 10 species of falcons) including Steppe Eagle, European Honey Buzzard, Pallid Harrier, Levant Sparrowhawk, and Lanner Falcon, 14 species of owls including Maghreb Owl, Desert Owl, and Pharaoh Eagle-Owl, and some incredible passerines, such as 19 species of larks, including the sought-after quartet of Desert Lark, Dunn’s Lark, Thick-billed Lark, and Greater Hoopoe-Lark, and 16 species of wheatears, such as Blackstart, Hooded Wheatear and Cyprus Wheatear. Other interesting passerines include Arabian Babbler, Wallcreeper, Streaked Scrub Warbler, Arabian Warbler, Tristram’s Starling, Black Scrub Robin, White-throated Robin, Green Bee-eater, Palestine Sunbird, Dead Sea Sparrow, Asian Crimson-winged Finch, Red-fronted Serin, and Syrian Serin (and lots more). One of the best feelings when birding in Israel however, is walking around any area of scrub that is literally heaving with hundreds of birds of an assortment of species – literally anything can (and often does) pop up right in front of you!
Over recent years the migration of birds through Israel has had excellent press due to the Champions of the Flyway fundraising event. At Birding Ecotours we have enjoyed being involved in the bird race here several times and we have thoroughly enjoyed our birding here.