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Birds of the Bible – Jerusalem and Bethlehem Area

I thought it would be interesting to find out about what birds Mary and Joseph might have seen on their journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register for the census.

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. (Luke 2:1-5 NKJV)

Laughing Dove (Stigmatopelia senegalensis) by NikhilAfter several hours searching the internet, I still do not have a clear list of the birds in that area. Here, in America, you can find a bird list of about every park or area around. In Jerusalem, 10 kilometers or 6 miles from Bethlehem, I couldn’t find any lists. In Bethlehem, which is now in the West Bank, no list were found. Birds do not care about the political boundaries. The quote below from the Jerusalem Bird Observatory was the best clue obtained. The lists for all the birds of Israel (over 500) can be found, but not for this specific area.

Western Barn Owl (Tyto alba) by Daves BirdingPix“Moving to central Israel, the Jerusalem region, though more famous for its religious and historical sites, can be interesting for birdwatchers too, with temperate wooded and rocky slopes to the west and the arid Judean Desert to the east. Typical forest birds, many also common in town parks and gardens, include blue jays, Syrian woodpeckers, several types of warblers and doves, song thrushes, assorted shrikes, blackbirds, robins, hoopoes, sunbirds, bulbuls, kestrels, hobbies, chukars and Scops and barn owls. Lovely areas for hiking and birdwatching include the forested mountainous area just south and west of Jerusalem around villages such as Nes Harim, Ora and Sataf, and forested areas further south near the town of Beit Shemesh and the Beit Guvrin archaeological park.

The Jerusalem Bird Observatory (JBO) is located in the landscaped gardens between the Knesset (Israel`s parliament) and the Supreme Court, though you need to bring ID and be patient with security searches. The JBO holds guided birding walks in English every Monday afternoon and does ringing there too. The Israeli capital is also home to prime nesting sites for the endangered lesser kestrel. The Musrara neighbourhood in particular is home to several nests and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) occasionally arranges walking tours of the area.” From Fatbirder

In the list above, the birds bolded, are in the bird families mentioned in the Bible. There are 532 birds listed in the Israel Checklist of which 110 are residents and most of the others are winter visitors, having migrated there from elsewhere. Of the residents, there are 4 Doves – Rock Dove (Rock Pigeon) , Eurasian Collared Dove, Laughing Dove, and the Namaqua Dove. The Eurasian Hoopoe and Barn Owls are also residents. The Quail family includes the Chukar and two other residents, the Black Francolin and the Sand Partridge.

It is realized in over 2,000 years, the birds have changed within their “kinds”, but these photos, may give an indication of what Mary and Joseph may have seen on their journey and in the place where the Lord Jesus Christ was born and lain in a manger.

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6-7 NKJV)

May the Lord bless you during the Christmas celebrations of the Birth of Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of the world.
The Gospel Message.

Photos top to bottom – Laughing Dove by Nikhil, Western Barn Owl by Dave’s BirdingPix, Eurasian Hoopoe  by Ian, Chukar Partridge (Alectoris chukar) by Ian