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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Why Birds Love Professor Reuven Yosef

(Image: Prof. Reuven Yosef, director of the IBRCE, Credit: IBRCE)

Update (7/2): Listen to this post via audio!

Imagine you are a bird, an amazing creature gifted with the ability of flight. Guided by nothing more than instinct and a "bio compass," you seek out nesting grounds you may have never seen in the hopes of expanding your species for another generation.

Unfortunately for you, there are very few "rest stops" along the way, thanks mainly to a two legged creature who has destroyed them in the name of convenience, which means that some of your flock may not be able to make the long, treacherous journey in the sky.

This was a situation facing many birds migrating over the middle east/Mediterranean area--that is until Professor Reuven Yosef (director of the International Birding and Research Center in Eilat) got involved.

(Israel 21st Century) In 1994, Yosef acquired a 64-hectare strip of wasteland garbage dump east of the expanding town. Begging soil from local earthmoving contractors to bury the tip, he built a salt lake stocked with brine shrimp and fed by nutrient-rich effluent from the local sewage works. Fresh water was piped from the city's desalination plant for a freshwater lake, and the native plants that thrived in the original salt marsh were re-seeded with help from the Jewish National Fund.

Only eight percent the area of the original marshes, the IBRCE sanctuary has slowly transformed into an irrigated ornithological paradise supporting a high density of plants and plenty of food for the birds during their temporary roost - the only food for hundreds of miles in any direction.

"Half a billion birds pass through the area every season. In the spring, they have to stop here to refuel, or may perish," Yosef explains.

The International Birding and Research Center in Eilat (or IBRCE) seems to have helped a variety of birds ranging from Arctic Terns to Grey Herons, to even the Short-toed Eagle.

Hopefully IBRCE can secure more donations as more preserves like this are needed in the region (not to mention the world).

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