My good friend Eran just returned from a visit to Israel. Eran belongs to that surprisingly large segment of the population that looks on birding with bemusement rather than interest, but he is a generous soul. Since I couldn’t be with him to appreciate the birds of Israel, he brought some back to me in photographic form. Good thing I’m not a hunter!
Eran’s photos offer a fascinating glimpse into the disproportionate presence of certain common birds. Because he approached his task without prejudice, seeking merely to snap a few representative shots of the local birdlife, he didn’t distinguish between native and nonnative species, treasure and trash birds. He took pictures of what he routinely saw in his travels. What did he come back with? Besides Rock Pigeons and House Sparrows, which he recognized but shot anyway, Eran returned with photos of Common Mynas:
Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis)
Sounds like a lot of invasive species to me! However, a little research revealed that, of that group, only the myna is considered invasive in Israel. Pigeon prejudice can get the better of a person so it bears reminding that there is a difference between invasion and mere expansion. Birds do have wings after all, and some are better equipped to live in humanity’s wake than others.
What don’t seem to change, no matter where one lands, are the types of birds that pop up regularly. Israel has its share of doves…
Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis)
…and starlings, though this species looks like a refreshing change from the ones that plague North America:
Tristram’s Starling (Onychognathus tristramii)
One can also always count on encountering corvids:
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)
I also like this avian-themed antiquity:
While Eran was visiting Caesarea, an old Roman city in Israel, he saw a sign in Hebrew pointing towards what he interpreted to be a bird sanctuary. His excitement (and confidence in his Hebrew skills) ebbed when it turned out to only be an exquisite ancient Roman bird mosaic.