Birds of the Air

and birds that fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” (Genesis 1:20)

The apartment where I am currently staying in Zichron Ya’akov is on the third floor and the balcony looks out over a large overgrown area with numerous trees and shrubs. I recognize palms and olive trees, but I don’t know the names of most of the vegetation. The area has a small pathway through it that many people use as a shortcut to nearby neighborhoods. We have used it walking to a friend’s house for Shabbat dinner, (which might have been a bit crazy since we have heard jackals howling down there in the middle of the night). This area is home to hundreds of birds. Flocks of birds soar in unison only a short distance from the building, and at the same level as the balcony where I am standing. I feel almost as if I were flying with them.

Bird feathers call to me. Perhaps they contain microscopic creatures or some kind of bird flu, but often I pick them up and put them on my windowsill (along with small rocks, leaves and twigs of various shapes and colors). My rational mind has continual arguments with my more mystical self about the possible messages in a crow’s raucous speech or the unexpected sighting of an increasingly rare bluebird. I sense that birds are communicating something important.

The fact that some people are not as fascinated with birds or even tolerant of them as I am always comes as somewhat of a surprise. I love birds, even though I don’t like the droppings they may leave behind on the balcony. There is a small bowl on the table that fills up with water when it rains. I let them drink, but then attempt to engage in a respectful conversation with them about why they need to move along.

I took this picture from inside the apartment.
I think it’s a Laughing Dove, but it wasn’t amused
by my attempt to get a picture.

This is a White Spectacled Bulbul. They have landed on the railing of our balcony but I haven’t been able to get a picture of one. They are very chatty birds and do a lot of early morning singing. When they fly you can see beautiful white patterns on the tops of their wings and tail.

Eurasian Blackbird – I like this bird a great deal because she has attitude. She will land on the balcony and walk along the railing while giving me the stink eye and daring me to say anything!

This is a Eurasian Hoopoe. I haven’t seen one, but really hope I will have the chance. Hoopoes were considered sacred in Ancient Egypt, and were depicted on the walls of tombs and temples. During the Old Kingdom, the hoopoe was used in the iconography as a symbolic code to indicate the child was the heir and successor of his father. In the Torah,(Leviticus 11:13-19, and Deuteronomy 14:18) hoopoes are among the animals that are not kosher and should not be eaten. However, in 2008 the Hoopoe won a popular vote and became the national bird of Israel.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; (Job 12:7)

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