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At the meeting point of Asia, Africa and Europe, Israel forms another “bottleneck” on the Great Rift Valley flyway.The total world population of Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina) and Levant Sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes), and the Palearctic population of White Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) cross over Israel each year.

In autumn, 250,000 White Storks (Ciconia ciconia), and 500,000 raptors of 35 different species pass over Israel; in spring, the counts are even higher: over a million raptors and 400,000 White Storks. (Yossi Leshem, Yoram Yom-Tov, Ibis, May 1996)

The Hula wetlands provide critical habitat for migratory birds, such as the White Pelican; and for approximately 90,000 Common Cranes (Grus grus) – about 30,000 cranes remain all winter. 30 raptor species winter in the Hula Valley, including Greater Spotted (Aquila clanga) and Imperial Eagles (Aquila heliaca)

Main threats to the birds include habitat loss, competition from new non-native species, and pollution.

The seed for Flyways was sown in 1991, when the Paul Winter Consort was on a concert tour in Israel and met Dr. Yossi Leshem. Dr. Yossi Leshem, founder and Director of the International Center for the Study of Bird Migration at Latrun, has initiated bird education programs in over 250 schools in Israel, and created an educational and scientific initiative, “Migrating Birds Know No Borders,” (www.birds.org.il) in cooperation with Palestinians and Jordanians. One of many projects under this umbrella supports organic agriculture using Barn Owls and Kestrels as pest controllers to reduce the use of pesticides. This became a national program and a regional project with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.’
L-R: (Top) The Efroni Choir, with Zohar Fresco, Andy Cooke and Chris Berry. (Middle) Zohar Fresco, Andy Cooke, Chris Berry, Paul Winter, Kamil Shajrawi, Hasam Ghani, Ashraf Lei. (Bottom) Zohar Fresco and Paul Winter.

L-R: (Top) The Efroni Choir, with Zohar Fresco, Andy Cooke and Chris Berry. (Middle) Zohar Fresco, Andy Cooke, Chris Berry, Paul Winter, Kamil Shajrawi, Hasam Ghani, Ashraf Lei. (Bottom) Zohar Fresco and Paul Winter.

Music collaborators include Palestinian musicians Kamil Shajrawi (oud); Hasam Abdel Ghani (nei); and Ashraf Abou Lei (double-pipe mejwez,  yarghoul); Israel musicians Zohar Fresco (percussion); Efroni Choir (conducted by Maya Shavits

Collaborators with Paul Winter in this performance included three Palestinian musicians: Kamil Shajrawi (oud, violin); Hasam Abdel Ghani (nei); and Ashraf Abou Lei (double-pipe mejwez,  yarghoul); Israeli musicians Zohar Fresco (frame drums) and the Efroni Choir, of 30 Israeli girls; as well as Chris Berry (mbira); and Andy Cooke  (ennanga, amadinda).

November, 2011, music from Flyways, interweaving African and Middle Eastern musical traditions, was presented at a concert hall in a kibbutz near the Sea of Galilee in Israel. This was part of the Hula Valley Bird Festival, a week-long series of events and conferences for ornithologists, biologists, birders and journalists from many countries.

“I think it’s wonderful what you’ve done here, bringing together onstage the Arab and Israeli musicians. That doesn’t happen in Israel.” - Israeli army general to Paul Winter, 2011

Our deep gratitude to the many people who have collaborated with us and assisted us in Israel, and especially to: 
Dr. Yossi Leshem, Department of Zoology in the Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University; 
Dan Alon, Director, Israel Ornithology Center 
Eyal Bartov, wildlife photographer: www.eyalbartov.co.il 
Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) 
Sami and Anita Chazan, Mitzpe Hayamim 
Naomi and Benzi WaxResources: 
Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) is the BirdLife Partner in Israel: http://www.birds.org.il 
International Center for the Study of Bird Migration, Latrun: http://www.birds.org.il 
International Birding and Research Center, Eilat: http://www.eilat-birds.org 
Eilat Bird Festival: http://eilatbirdsfestival.com 
Hula Valley Bird Festival: http://www.hulabirdfestival.org

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  • Israel

    Size: 22072 km²

    Human population: 7,624,600
    (World Bank, World Development Indicators, 2010)

    Bird species: 546
    of which 14 are globally threatened (Avibase - Bird Checklist of the World).

    Important Bird Areas: 15

    Paul Winter (left) listening to Kamil Shajrawi (oud)

    “It was an outstanding event with inspiring music. We heard so many positive and enthusiastic responses from people who said it was a ‘concert of hope and cooperation’. Many people said that the musicians were amazing and they loved the Israeli Jewish – Arab cooperation with our guests from abroad.” - Yossi Leshem and Dan Alon, (conference hosts for A Bird’s Eye View of Migration Stopover Sites: Flyway Conservation through Science, Policy, Education and Tourism, Hula Valley Bird Festival, 2011)