Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Winter Cranes in Hula Bird Sanctuary

Israel is a stopping station for migrating birds. Large cranes and pelicans from Europe migrate to Africa in the spring and fall. The Hula bird sanctuary is Israel's largest park to see this amazing natural phenomena. This time a year there are thousands of cranes at the sanctuary. In a field next to the ponds, we say thousands of cranes eating and quacking. The noise seems like a crazy conversation between a pair of birds, only multiplied by a thousand. 
On a late November Friday we headed to see "the birds". Early this morning the cranes were fed, a mix of peanuts and corn, so the pecking was at it's peak. Once in a while a few birds take off or land. It's a mystery why a group of two to twenty suddenly decided to take to the wing. If the birds feel comfortable, they stay in their place among the thousands of other birds. If somehow scared or suddenly surprise them they will take off like a cloud darkening the sky. Local guides will show you how a pair protects a small section of the rookery and how they keep an eye on their chicks (cranes with soft plumage are gray up to two years of age). In the wild cranes live to about seven years of age. In captivity they live to seventeen years of age. Apparently their grace and healthy appearance belie the harsh reality of migration thousands of miles every year. A few cranes who are injured live in Hula year around. Summer here can be difficult on large birds. Yet the migration north to Europe is also a difficult journey. Come to see the bird migration here, nature will amaze you...

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