The Jerusalem Bird Observatory (JBO) is without doubt one of the “secret places” of Jerusalem. It is not all that well known even to Jerusalemites.
The Jerusalem Bird Observatory was established in 1994 by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. Naturalist Amir Balaban and theornithologist Gidon Perleman. It is the first of its kind in Jerusalem, if not for the entire Israel. The observatory was established at a strategic location — on the bird migration route between Africa and Eurasia along the Great Rift Valley.
Over 500 million birds migrate through Israel, especially during spring and summer. About two-thirds of the birds in Jerusalem are migratory, while the rest do not migrate at all and remain permanently in the area. Apart from birds, gazelles also inhabit the park.
The site attracts hundreds to thousands of colorful birds, and thousands of visitors and groups every year, who have the rare chance to see and enjoy fascinating natural phenomena.
In 2011, the Jerusalem Bird Observatory opened the very nature-friendly Gutnam Visitor Center. The purpose of this building is to provide additional sanctuary for the birds as well as the bees. It is designed in a way that allows wildflowers and weeds to grow wild, inviting birds and insects to make it their home.
Israel is located on the main seasonal migration paths and so is a paradise for bird lovers. The main centers include the Hula Reserve & the Eilat Bird Sanctuary. However, many birds also pass through Jerusalem – hence the Jerusalem Bird Observatory (JBO).
The Jerusalem Bird Observatory is a little green corner of paradise mainly dedicated to research into the birds that pass through. However, there are also some hides to allow the public to observe. We are informed that the best time to visit is in the very early hours of the day around dawn, but, we have not verified this claim ourselves. However, the Jerusalem Bird Observatory is a special place at all hours of the day, completely accessible and a favorite with children. There is also a meadow nearby. You may also enjoy these photos of the JBO ringing birds in the the nearby Jerusalem Park.
Other activities include watching nature movies, tree planting, nature crafts, photography workshops, sketching workshops, and birdwatching for beginners workshops.
Getting to the Jerusalem Bird Observatory
It could not be easier to get to the JBO – it is located just between Gan Sacher and the Knesset. From Gan Sacher take the path that winds its way behind the public toilets (near the children’s playground and the exercise equipment). It is a short but steep climb and the entrance is on the right a 100 meters or so past the gate. Wheelchair visitors may prefer access directly from Rothschild Street.
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel website – Jerusalem Bird Observatory webpage: https://natureisrael.org/JBO