Tag Archives: Bird migration

The stork in the Bible and the Bible Lands

Early in my travels to the Middle East I learned about the migration of the stork. They spend the winters in south-east Africa and then follow the great rift or depression through Israel, some going east to Asia and others going west to Europe. In the fall of the year they make their way back to Africa.

If you have traveled from Tiberias to Jericho by way of the Jordan valley you know that the valley is sometimes far below the highway. Once I saw a flock of storks traveling north through the valley. The stork, and other birds, spend some time in the Hulah valley north of the Sea of Galilee before continuing their trek.

Jeremiah seems to be describing the migratory habits of the stork.

Even the stork in the heavens knows her times, and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming, but my people know not the rules of the LORD. (Jeremiah 8:7 ESV)

I have seen many storks in Turkey. They make their nests on chimneys (has to be summer!), on power poles, and on old columns. The Psalmist indicates that they also nest in the fir trees (Psalm 104:17). Our photo today was made near an old Roman road at Kovanlik, Turkey. It’s almost like they know to follow the roads through Asia to Europe.

A stork standing on her nest at Kovanlik, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A stork standing on her nest at Kovanlik, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

According to the Mosaic law the stork was an unclean bird (Leviticus 11:19; Deuteronomy 14:18). The prophet Zechariah uses the movement of the storks with their strong wings as an illustration (which I dare not try to interpret).

Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, two women coming forward! The wind was in their wings. They had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven. (Zechariah 5:9 ESV)

The Keren Kayemeth Leisrael JNF website provides good information about storks, and other birds, in the Hulah valley here. Here is another nice site with information about storks and some good photos.

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North of the Sea of Galilee

Most of our visits today were north of the Sea of Galilee. Here are some of the stop we made.

The fishing port of Tiberias, where we saw fishermen bringing in some large fish. One of the owners of the Ron Beach Hotel told us these large fish were used for fish oil.

Hazor.

Senir (Hasbani) River. One of the sources of the Jordan.

Dan. To photograph the Middle Bronze city gate (19th-18th century B.C.).

Beit Ussishkin Museum at Dan. The museum is mostly about the flora and fauna of the region, but there are a few pieces from the Dan excavations.

Hermon Stream Nature Reserve (or Banias River). To see the waterfall.

Omrit. Site of possible Herodian temple to Augustus. The road is horrible, and there is still a long walk to visit the site. It is really not prepared or intended for the casual visitor. Someday it should be.

Abel-beth-maacah (or Abel of Beth-maacah). A city called “a mother in Israel” (2 Samuel 20:19). We had a view of Mount Hermon with a small amount of snow still on the top.

Abel-beth-maacah and Mount Hermon. View toward east. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Abel-beth-maacah and Mount Hermon. View toward east. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Metula. This Israeli town is on the border with Lebanon. We looked over into Lebanon.

Hula Lake/Agamon Lake. This is the restoration of a portion of Hula Lake that had been drained in the mid-20th century. Birds from Asia and Europe travel through the Great Rift and their way to Africa and back. This lake is a favorite stopping place for many of them.

It was a hot day, but an enjoyable one.