Services for the visiting birder

Palestinians course

Pallid Scops Owl at the ringing station Eilat and southern Arava attract not only migratory birds but also visiting birders that follow them. The IBRCE and the Israeli Ornithological Center is welcoming our fellow foreign birders and gives some free services.

  1. Plan your trip through the national birding centers. General information about birding news and activities can be found in this page and a special app. For planning how to find the birds you want to see browse this page.
  2. The IBRCE birders information center - Our office operates during its work hours as an information center. We collect information about sighting around southern Arava and give advice to you birders how to find the birds in the field.
  3. The Bird sanctuary in Eilat has great habitats and attracts lots of birds year round. Entrance is free and it is open all day long every day.
  4. The ringing station is open on migration seasons (mid-February to mid-May and September to November) daily and you can come and visit and see the staff at work.
  5. Guiding services – general migration and the importance of Eilat for the migratory birds and a short birding session in the bird's sanctuary is given for a fee. Guiding must be pre coordinated through 050-7671290 or
  6. Special guided birding trips for groups or individuals in the area can also be coordinated with us at

Risks of the birds of Eilat

Eilat is home for a wide diversity of desert birds but the main avian importance is the passage of migratory birds through the area. Hundreds of millions of Passerines and waders and some 3 million birds of prey use this route on their way between Europe, Asia and Africa.

Migratory birds

Eilat and southern Arava are one of the most important areas for migratory birds in the world. The only land bridge between Europe, Asia and Africa is a bottle-neck that serves hundreds of millions of migrants. These birds are preparing themselves for the challenging task of crossing the hostile and foodless Sahara desert. Eilat used to be an expansive rich saltmarsh that was the last "fueling station" before the bird's epic desert journey. However, the area has suffered human development resulting in very little of this important habitat remaining. In the bird sanctuary we work to renew the food source of the migrants of Eilat, conduct research that constantly monitors the physical condition of the birds, and endeavor to safeguard this extremely vital flyway.

Desert birds

Desert Tawny Owl in Eilat mountains Eilat and southern Arava are home for a diverse population of desert birds. Some of these species are widespread in many habitats (Desert Lark, Sand Partridge, Blackstart), some are confined to very specific habitats (Hoopoe Lark, Bar – tailed Lark, Striolated Bunting) and some are nomadic in nature (Thick – billed Lark, Dunn's Lark, Crowned Sandgrouse) and use it only when it fills with food, once in a few years.

The ecosystems of the desert largely dependent on the aridity and floods that occur in the region once in few years and flow in the routes dictated by topography of wadis.

Hazards and risks

  1. Habitat destruction - Habitats in Eilat and Arava continue to be threatened, damaged or destroyed. Examples are:
    1. The new Timna / Ramon Airport is being built on a unique sandy Hamada but the main problem is the anti-flood system that is built around it. This system diverts the floods water into man made canals without any vegetation and the old and naturalwadis, with the existing vegetation will never see water flow again. Some of the area that will be disconnected from the natural drainage systemare parts of the Evrona salt marsh, where many migratory and desert birds feed.
    2. A new plan to build a new neighborhood next to the bird sanctuary. The main impact will be the closure of the salt factory and the drying of the salt ponds that host many migratory waders and water birds.
    3. Plans to build a railway to Eilat, a hotel in Timna Park, and new water reservoirs on top of important habitats.
  2. Agriculture – The main feature of the desert is its aridity. Agricultural farms irrigate large areas with huge amounts of water (compared to the annual average rainfall). Creating giant green patches in the desert. Despite thefact that migratory birds use these fieldswe found out that bird use of fields is dependent on many factors such as season of cultivation, crops, usage of pesticides, scope and method of irrigation and others.In 2015a survey we made showed that very few migratory birds were observed in fields, compared to natural habitats.
    The main negative impact of farming in the desert is the encouragement of generalist species populations that knew how to use the abundancy of vegetation to their own benefit on the expense of specialized niche species that lost their habitats and could not manage the competition with the species that adjusted themselves for agriculture.
    The expanding agricultural activity in the Arava is probably the gravest element hazardous to desert birds , mammals and reptiles.
  3. Infrastructure - Eilat's population grows and with it the infrastructure that serves it.
    1. power lines – Powerlines are hazardous to birds because of the danger of electrocution and collision. With the erection of more and more solar fields in the Arava, the risks for the birds are greater. Some of these powerlines are built above water sources that attract birds and we had numerous collision cases, mainly birds which fly also at night, including Flamingos. Power lines situated in sensitive bird areas can be put under the ground or be protected against electrocutions.
    2. Sewage treatment ponds – These ponds became an important habitat for waterfowl and waders and an important drinking spot for migratory Raptors. The main risks for the birds are the eradication of vegetation on the banks of the reservoirs during migration and breeding seasons (destroying the habitats and nests), oily substance in the water that drowns and kills drinking Raptors and the quality of water drunk by the birds.
    3. Fences – fences and roads are hazardous mainly to mammals, reptiles and insects. Nevertheless barb fences kill scores of Pharaoh Eagle Owls and Buzzards.
  4. Wind turbines - future plans to build wind turbines in areas where Raptors, waterfowl and sea birds pass in numbers are one of the major risks for migratory birds in our area. The risk of collision with the turbines threatens some species which most of their world population passes here. Some of these species are rare worldwide.
  5. Invasive species - The Indian House Crow that arrived ship assisted to our area in 1976 preys migratory Passerines and seen attacking and killing larger birds too. They also attack humans in the breeding season occasionally.
  6. Low public awareness - The main obstacle to prevent and fix hazardsis low environmental awareness among decision makers and the wide public.
  7. Tourism – Birding and bird photography tourism can harm birds and their habitats. Tourists that enter sensitive habitats, Photographers that needs to be closer to their subjects and infrastructure for tourism.


Eilat and southern Arava have a long way to make before it becomes a truly safe place for migratory and desert birds. Nevertheless, there are many opportunities to improve the safety of these birds and with it the entire eco-system:

  1. Creating higher local and institutional public awareness is the key for a change in the area as the decision makers and public have good will and intentions but lack the knowledge and attachment to nature and birds.A lot has been done, but there is still a long list of actions that can improve the level of public awareness dramatically.
  2. Creating opportunities for eco – tourism – Ecotourism can be a hazard to nature conservation as it burdens habitats and wildlife but at the same time, done in a proper and safe way, create awareness and highlight the economic benefits of nature conservation.
  3. Conducting research that can promote the knowledge of how to protect migratory and desert birds. The location of our area as a migration crucial passage point, just before the crossing of the Sahara desert (autumn) or just after the crossing (spring) makes also the biology and needs of the birds different from any other point. Local factors and global factors, still not fully understood and documented, have impact on the welfare of these birds and their ability to cross the desert safely.We also lack a lot of knowledge of how the desert keeps its eco-systems and need to understand how our doings affect it (powerlines, habitat changes, drainage shifting, agriculture etc…).
  4. Building a cross – border vision and master plan for the safety of the migratory and desert birds in Eilat, Aqaba and southern Arava region that will map and find holistic solutions for environmental problems.
  5. Cross – border cooperation to solve the House Crow problem – The action to mitigate the impact of the Crow on the environment and humans can only be effectivethrough cross border action that will deal with the crows on both sides of the border.
  6. Actions and campaigns to stop hazardous infrastructure - to change or prevent the cause of hazard for the migratory and desert birds like stopping wind turbines plans, anti-electrocution measures on pylons etc…
  7. Improving habitats by changes such as more buoys in gulf so sea birds can perch or nest, floating islands in sewage ponds to keep the vegetation around if the banks vegetation is eradicated for maintenance needs, birds friendly vegetation etc…