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500 Million Migrating Birds Can’t Be Wrong

Bird watchers in Israel can never cry fowl

Adam Chandler
January 28, 2013

In case you didn’t know (or perhaps you have such acute ornithophobia that you’ve blocked it out), Israel–at the crossroads of three continents–boasts one of the largest bird migrations IN THE WORLD.

Each year, one billion birds soar above this tiny stretch of ancient land, where Africa, Europe and Asia meet. Second only to Panama, this geographical intersection is one of the world’s largest bird migration paths, with more than 540 species traversing the airspace each autumn and spring.

Dr Yossi Lesham, director of Israel’s International Centre for the Study of Bird Migration, explained that per square mile, the country has one of the highest concentrations of bird traffic in the world. “In one morning, we can see maybe 10,000 eagles. Just in one morning,” he said.

In other words, bird migration in the Levant would make Alfred Hitchcock blush.

For a spectacular read on birding, I’d highly recommend our own Jonathan Rosen’s book The Life of Skies, which looks at the meaning of observing migrations, which are, in essence, one of the most poignant markers of time.

The above picture of the great migration was taken over the weekend.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.