Israel is finding itself inundated with millions of extra birds. The birds, which usually use Israel as a stopover on the way to Africa, are opting to stay in cooler climes and hanging out in the country. The increasing encroachment of deserts and frequent droughts in Africa have made food for birds scarce. Many types of birds are staying longer in Israel as their migratory patterns change.

Migratory Birds
Migratory Birds

Image via The Jerusalem Post

According to ornithologist Shay Agmon, avian coordinator of the wetlands park of Agamon Hula in northern Israel, cranes are just one example of this change. In the 1950s less than 1,000 of the birds would winter over in the wetlands until March before heading north again. Now around 45,000 of the birds are filling up the same area.

While ornithologists and tourists are enjoying the attraction, farmers are finding the situation far less enjoyable. So many more hungry birds means that the food crops they grow are endangered. Workers at the reserve have taken to feeding the birds there to keep them away from crops and offering them a more comfortable life.

Yossi Leshem, a zoologist at Tel Aviv University points out that these changes in migratory patterns can affect human food supplies globally since birds often protect food crops by eating insects. Without enough birds farmers will need to use more pesticides which in turn costs more, kills what birds are left, contaminates water supplies, and damages soil.

It is possible that permanent human intervention will become necessary to maintain bird populations in the future. Other species already require human assistance to survive, such as salmon in the northwestern U.S. that are being trucked upstream to their spawning grounds.

Source: The Jerusalem Post