Initiative for protection of the Collared Pratincole in Israel
Nadav Israeli, Hula Valley Birdwatching Center
The Collared Pratincole is a part of the Charadrius family. Until the 1960s, hundreds of pairs of Pratincoles nested in central and northern Israel. However, in the late 1960s and 1970s changes in farming methods and habitat loss, the Collared Pratincole breeding population suffered a drastic drop in numbers and today less than a 100 pairs of the Collared Pratincole nest in Israel.
Plans for protection of the Pratincole breeding population in Israel were initiated in 2010 and involves the cooperation of the Society for the Protection of Nature, the Nature and Parks Authority, the Jewish National Fund in the Hula Valley region and local farmers.
Funding of the project was possible with the help of the Hoopoe Foundation. The initiative’s main goal is to provide safe nesting grounds for Collared Pratincoles. This can be achieved by providing the birds with designated areas where they can complete the cycles without being disturbed, and to attract the Pratincole to nest in these designated areas. In the event that the birds choose to nest in active agricultural areas, the plan promotes cooperation with farmers to protect the nesting colonies through compensation.
Hula Valley Nesting Season 2013
At the beginning of the breeding season the Pratincoles chose to nest in an active field north of the Hula Lake. The colony, the largest in Israel, included 30 nesting pairs. The farmer had planned to plant corn in the area about a month after the colony was established. Things needed to be done quickly since without action, the colony would have been destroyed in the preparation of the soil for planting. Luckily we were able to contact the land owner in time and reached an agreement with him, under which he would not work the land until the Pratincoles complete the nesting cycle, for which he would be compensated for the lack of crops from this area.
The nesting colony was marked and an area of about 5 acres was fenced off. All farming activity took place as usual outside the colony however there was no agricultural disturbance inside the marked area during the nesting cycle. On May 24, the first hatchlings were seen in the colony and since then more than 60 chicks have hatched and are doing well in the marked area. The parents constantly feed them with insects from the surrounding fields.
This year we have placed two small motion-sensitive cameras near one of the nests which have filmed both stills and video and broadcast back to the center every few minutes. Seeing the hatchlings emerge was very exciting. The information from these cameras will assist us greatly in better managing the protection program in the future.
This year, Ms. Liraz Cabara, M.Sc. student at Haifa University, sponsored by the JNF and the Hoopoe Foundation aims to uncover the factors that influence the Pratincoles' choice of nesting grounds and enable us to prepare better-suited areas that will attract the birds to nest outside farmland. Pratincole nesting in other areas in 2013: Bet Shean Valley – a colony of about ten pairs was found by local volunteers. The farmer informed us that no crops were planned for that area during the nesting season so the colony's situation appears good.