Golden EagleBlack StorkCommon Crane

  • Issue: August 2002
  • Artist: Tuvia Kurtz
  • Designer: Yitzhak Granot
  • Stamp Size: 30 mm x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 481, 482, 483 (two phosphor bars)
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: The House of Questa, UK
  • Method of printing: offset

Israel is located, at the junction of three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa. Despite its small size some 500 million birds concentrate in Israel in the spring and autumn migration - a unique natural phenomena seemly there is none second to it in the world.

The large majority of migrating birds fly along the Syrian-African Rift, from the Taurus Mountains in Turkey to the Zambezi River in Africa. The Jordan Valley is therefore one of the most important migration routes in the world. Approximately 30 different species of Birds of Prey, White and Black Storks, Cranes and Pelicans, as well as a large variety of songbirds, water birds and others, fly along the high steep ridges of the Judean Desert, Samaria, the Gilboa Mountains, the Beit Shear, Valley, the Hula Valley, the Galilee and Golan Heights.

Three prominent species of birds which can be seen in the Jordan Valley were chosen for this stamp series: The Golden Eagle represents the resident birds nesting in the region, the Black Stork represents the migrating birds of the Jordan Valley, and the Common Crane represents the wintering birds found in the Hula Valley.

Tel Aviv University and The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel has established The International Center for the Study of Bird Migration, at the Armored Corps Memorial in Laturn, with the full cooperation of the Israel Ornithology Center. Both centers promote interdisciplinary activities for the protection of migrating birds in the Jordan Valley. The researchers, with the help of radio transmitters attached to migrating birds and received by satellite, track the birds and their migration route. Thousands of students from about 250 schools in Israel follow them via the Internet. The numbers of birdwatchers and nature lovers has gained momentum and tens of thousands of ornithologists come to Israel to observe the large amounts of migrating birds, from Eilat in the South to the Hermon in the North.

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

About 30 pairs of Golden Eagles nest in Israel, in the Judean and Negev Deserts. The Golden Eagle is a national symbol of many countries and was also the symbol of the 10th Roman Legion that laid siege to Massada. The stamp shows a pair of Golden Eagles with Massada and the Dead Sea in the background. The wingspan of the Golden Eagle is about 2.20 meters. The Eagle's vision is sharp and it is capable of diving towards its prey, (mainly hares and rock pigeons) at a speed of more than 120 km per hour.

Black Stork (Ciconia nigra)

The world population of the Black Stork is endangered, as opposed to the White Stork that is the most prominent bird in Israel during the migrating season (approximately 600,000 White Storks). The Black Stork migrates mainly along the Jordan Valley. The Black Stork is shown on the stamp with the meanders of the Jordan River in the background. 15,000 to 20,000 Black Storks migrate over the skies of Israel. Hundreds of them winter in Israel mainly in the Beit Shean Valley. The Black Stork nests on trees and cliffs and is eye-catching with its striking black coloring.

Common Crane (Gnus gnus)

About 20,000 Cranes stay in the Hula Valley during the winter. A unique co-existence between farmers, nature conservationists and the cranes exists in the flooded areas. Large numbers of Cranes began to winter there, mainly because, after the re-flooding of the Hula Valley, farmers started to grow peanuts and the Cranes very much like this nutritious food. Farmers now disperse corn every day (about 200 tons a season!) as a substitute to the peanuts and the Cranes have stopped damaging the agricultural crops. They have become an attraction for visitors to the area.

Dr. Yossi Leshem, Director, International Center for the Study of Bird Migration, Latrun Dept. of Zoology, Tel Aviv University

Dan Alon
Director Israel Ornithology Center The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel

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Birds of the Jordan Valley