This year’s stork migration has begun with the first sightings of huge flocks already seen in the Negev, around the Dead Sea and in the Hula Valley en route to their winter homes in Africa.
The storks began arriving early last week to rest and feed in Israel, gathering strength before setting off on the next leg of their migration from summer in Europe to winter in the African continent. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) reported that some thirty-one thousand storks have landed in Israel to gain strength for their long journey south before the start of winter.
The stork is often mentioned in the Bible being admired for its huge wingspan and ability to catch upward streams of warm air pockets, allowing entire flocks to gently ride along the swirling torrents with almost no effort. The prophet Jeremiah regarded the storks as special when he noticed that “the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons,” referring to the regularity of their migration through Israel even in biblical times.
The majestic birds will be seen over Israel for the next six weeks or so, and approximately 350,000 are expected to fly over the country from north to south, according to the SPNI.
The Hula Valley below Mount Hermon is visited by more than half a billion birds of different species during the migrating season, and is considered one of the 10 most important nature observation points on earth.
The Israel Air Force commands special radar and tracking systems during the migration seasons in order to prevent collisions with the birds by jets and commercial planes.