Bird-watching in Israel

Birds near Eilat, Israel, photo by Dafna Tal, courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism

Birds near Eilat, Israel, photo by Dafna Tal, courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism

Just as Israel has historically been a thoroughfare for human traffic and a meeting point of diverse cultures, it is a superhighway and home for a vast array of birds. 530 species have been recorded.

As a geographical bridge between Europe, Asia and Africa, Israel hosts 500 million migrating birds each spring and fall. Winters in Israel are mild enough that some European and Asian birds winter there instead of traveling all the way to Africa.

A wide range of habitats makes Israel home to numerous year-round, resident species, including European, African and Asian species living on the fringes of their natural habitats.

Cranes in the Hula Valley of northern Israel, photo by Itamar Grinberg, courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism

Cranes in the Hula Valley of northern Israel, photo by Itamar Grinberg, courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism

photo by Dafna Tal, courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism

photo by Dafna Tal, courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism

Any time of year is good for birding but especially November-May, which encompasses both fall and spring migrations and wintering birds. March is best, with spring migration underway, many of the wintering birds still around, and mating season making local birds particularly active and showy.

The prime places to see birds are in the Hula Valley in the north and around Eilat in the far south. Two birding festivals happen each year during migration season, in Eilat in the spring and in the Hula Valley in the fall.

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