Friday, March 23, 2012

Bird watching in Israel, and the Great Supper of the Dead

The Lord has certainly blessed Israel. I discovered some interesting things while reading a book on the natural history of Israel. if you ever take up a non-fiction book or encyclopedia of all the flora and fauna of that tiny nation it is really interesting. The wealth and diversity of animals, plants, and terrain in that tiny country is just amazing. In the old days, the ancient cartographers used to draw Israel in the middle of the map with Jerusalem as center. That placement is not only apt spiritually since Israel drives the entire world (Genesis 12:1-3) but is apt for natural history study, as well. The nation is at the junction of three continents, is between the temperate and the tropical zones, and has three climate types, (Mediterranean, Steppe, and Desert) and an incredible array of animals and plants.

The birds of the south and the north are funneled over Israel in their annual migratory patterns. They fly directly over Israel. Millions upon millions of them. Hundreds of millions. The city of Eilat mentioned in the article below is at the southernmost point of Israel-

Flight path to peril
"Each northern spring an awesome aerial torrent of 500 million birds pauses at a tiny fleck of a sanctuary at the tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, en route from the heart of Africa to the vastnesses of Europe and Asia. In the 1960s, Eilat, at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba, was recognised as the vital crossroads on the avian highway between three continents, a natural funnel through which the birds of Europe and Asia pour in millions on their way to winter feeding grounds in Ethiopia and around Lake Victoria. Of the three great migratory routes – over Gibraltar in Spain, across the Straits of Messina and down the Rift Valley from Turkey to Kenya – Eilat bestrides the largest and most important."

Israel: A crossroad for bird migration
"The unique location of Israel at the junction of three continents, has made it a "bottleneck" and a crossroad for bird migration, second to almost no other site in the world. Research over the past decade has shown that about 500 million migrating birds fly over Israel's narrow airspace. These birds migrate over Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and through Egypt to Africa."

Birdwatchers find heaven in superhighway Israel
"Bird migration is big in Israel. Per square kilometre, the country has one of the highest levels of bird traffic in the world. Every autumn, over 500 million birds cross Israel's airspace, heading south to warming weather in Africa."Israel sits on the junction of three continents," says Dr Yossi Leshem, director of Israel's International Centre for the Study of Bird Migration. "Politically, it's a disaster, but for bird migration, it's heaven. We have a huge bird bottleneck, a superhighway." Dr Leshem explains that most birds prefer to fly over land when migrating. It allows them to save energy by flying using warm thermal air rising off the land below.Many birds flying south from Northern Europe and Asia to Africa want to avoid the Mediterranean and Caspian seas and are therefore funnelled down over Israel..."

What an incredible blessing! But with that comes an incredible problem. The bird strikes were costing the Israeli Air Force 10 million dollars per year in damaged and downed aircraft. Passenger air transportation was at risk twice per year with the over 500 million birds flying over Israeli skies. Large birds pose a worse hazard. As this article from 2010 states, "About 80 percent of all White Storks in the world pass over Israel. The heavy birds can have an impact equivalent of more than 40 tons in a collision depending on the speed of the jet."

This article from last month, Feb 2012, explains the gains the Israelis have been making on technology that would make for a safer flight for both bird and man:

Israeli technology minimizes bird hits in flight
Tel Aviv: "Bird hits can be particularly nasty for an airplane, forcing it to land or send it crashing to the ground, often with devastating consequences. Now, fresh research has developed a digitized system with the ability to track migrating birds in real-time, minimizing the possibility of such collisions. Bird hits have claimed more than 200 lives worldwide since 1988, according to Bird Strike Committee US. The US Air Force also reported more than 5,000 bird strikes in 2007 alone. Researcher Yossi Leshem, zoologist at the Tel Aviv University, has developed a system to track migrating birds and minimize the possibility of collisions. Since the beginning of Leshem's programme, there has been a 76 percent drop in collisions - saving $800 million and countless lives since 1984, according to a Tel Aviv statement."

"Adapted from weather radar technology, Leshem's system has been implemented throughout Israel. It tracks birds' movements, then reports details of their coming and going, including the height at which they are flying, and which route they are taking. Based on this information, the Israel Air Force (IAF), which funds the research along with Israel's Ministry of Defence, can alter flight plans accordingly. With the third and final radar installed in the north of Israel two years ago, a flock can be followed 40 miles into Lebanon, Syria, or Jordan, and the IAF gives a two-hour advanced warning of the arrival of a flock."

Blessed again with an ingenious solution to a bountiful problem!

Now, prophetically, I was thinking of several verses about birds in the Tribulation:

"And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God," (Rev 19:17).

This moment occurs after Jesus bursts back onto earth on a white horse with His saints following, and slays all those hundreds of millions assembled at the battle of Armageddon. The angel then calls to the birds to come eat the dead. I'd often wondered about the hundreds of millions of dead and how or where the birds will come from to be able to match the numbers indicated in the verse of how many dead there will be to eat.

Also Ezekiel 39:17 at the end of the Gog-Magog war: "Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: 'Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood."

So in addition to being blessed to see highways of birds pass over each spring and fall, at the last day, when God calls to the birds of the air for the Great Supper, it is not so hard, now, to imagine there will be enough birds to fulfill the prophecy. God has already trained them.

5 comments :

  1. Wow I didnt know this about Israel! Such a great, informative post as usual.

    ReplyDelete
  2. thanks Debbie! I was fascinated reading the natural history of Israel. In some cases, the climate is differentiated by a mere 100 feet, with totally different flora and fauna occupying the next micro-climate

    ReplyDelete
  3. A vulture boards a plane carrying two dead raccoons. The flight attendant turns to him and say's. "I'm sorry sir, only one carrion per person".

    I remember quite a few years ago reading about the fact of increased birth rate with these vultures. I think this was the article.

    Some years ago the following article appeared in the CHRIST FOR NATIONS MAGAZINE:
    Increasing numbers of vultures are already circling in the Valley of ARMAGEDDON, according to a startling report in the Next Visitors to the Planet Earth, by Rabbi Michael Esses.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The Esses book is a 1975 book one can find on Amazon. Here is a link to Google books where the quote about the vultures can be found, but it is only a sliver of a sentence. The rest of the book can't be seen on Google.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=1Ky7WRMIti8C&q=vultures#search_anchor

    However I haven't been able to find any data that specifically supports that it is vultures increasing in numbers in Israel...All I can find is a repeat of the quote above. If anyone has more information I'd love to read it.

    The griffon vulture is actually endangered and a widespread conservation effort was undertaken tenyears ago to save it. This .pdf titled "Conservation of Threatened Raptor Populations in Israel" records counts of raptor populations in Israel in 1999-2001 showing an overall decline, but with vultures increasing from 300 to 435 due tot he success of the conservation efforts. They found that the nesting pairs had doubled from 70 to 140.
    http://www.birds.org.il/SIP_STORAGE/FILES/7/757.pdf

    I think that ALL birds gather over Israel in their migratory patterns, not just vultures.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is where I found it.
    http://armageddon.wapgroups.com/topic.asp?tid=50684
    I had seen this a few years ago about the increase in eggs with some of these Vultures and I see that as an indicator of the nearness of that time when these will be called to supper.

    ReplyDelete