Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Saving Europe's Birds - Eilat Sanctuary

At least 500 million birds of 200 different species fly across Israel each spring and autumn en route to and from Africa, Europe and Asia.

International Center for the Study of Bird Migration in central Latrun has a range of projects protecting migrating birds during their long trip. It has a radar warning system for military and commercial pilots aimed at preventing bird strikes, a common danger during take-off and landing.

International Birdwatching Center of the Jordan Valley at Kfar Ruppin has developed and shared strategies to protect the hungry travellers from getting entangled in the nets topping the many commercial fish ponds in the area and from ingesting pesticides as they peck in its vast agricultural fields.

In partnership with Israel's Nature Reserve Authority, IBCJV offers fish farms alternative wide-stringed nets less likely to snare birds. When necessary, its staff rescues, rings and sets free fish-eating pelicans, cormorants and herons that do get stuck. Any wounded birds are sent for treatment at a hospital in the Ramat Gan Safari.

To keep farmers and birds happy, the best solution has been setting up barn owl and kestrel nesting boxes as part of a national effort to introduce this natural rodent-control method. Reducing pesticide use benefits everyone from the migratory birds to the end consumer.

In another longstanding cooperative venture, the IBCJV partners with Israel Electric to keep larger migrating birds such as pelicans, herons and white storks from being electrocuted on power lines. IBCJV identifies locations where the electric company needs to install insulation around the high-voltage wires so when the birds sit on the poles and touch the wires with their wings, they do not get electrocuted and do not damage the system.

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