Israel Ornithological Center (IOC)
Israel lies at the heart of one of the world's largest migration routes. Twice a year hundreds of millions of birds pass through the region on their way to and from their Eurasian breeding grounds.
Most of these birds only stop for a brief refueling session and continue the journey, others remain to winter. The importance of Israel's few remaining natural habitats is crucial to the survival of millions of birds. Migrants rely on these sites as stop-over and refueling sites before crossing the vast strip of deserts to the south, or immediately following the crossing.
Founded in 1980, the IOC works toward preserving endangered species such as: the Lesser Kestrel, the Cranes, and the Houbara Bustard. The IOC has several successful ongoing projects, including rehabilitating and conserving habitats for birds; leading research and surveying activities; and running numerous educational programs in schools throughout Israel. The IOC has developed into a major regional organization engaged in conversation, research, education and ecotourism activities aimed at protecting and preserving Israel's avifauna.
Goals and Activities
IOC’s main goal is to protect and conserve the region’s biodiversity and natural resources through activities focused on birds. Furthermore, IOC believes in integrating research, conservation, education and ecotourism within each of its projects to create rich and diverse programming.
The IOC currently operates three Birdwatching Centers in Israel and is leading several major regional projects with Israel’s neighbors – the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. The IOC’s vision is to create a sustainable environment throughout the region, irrespective of borders – just like the birds that know no boundaries .
Public Awareness -Developing and implementing educational programs for schools and the community about birds, and nature conservation. The IOC works through 16 Community Centers and the network of SPNI Field Schools across the country.
Nature Conservation is the main purpose of the center’s work. Conservation activities include protection and restoration of important bird areas, development of land management plans, and rare species conservation plans.
Research is the basis on which much of our other activities depends, including surveys and monitoring of migration, wintering and nesting birds, and investigating interrelationships between people and nature.
Capacity Building and Cooperation – Working with local, state and international agencies and organizations on conservation issues. Partnering with farmers to prevent conflicts with wildlife, and encourage environmentally friendly agriculture such as organic, buffer zones and biological pest control.
Ecotourism -Developing tourism services specifically for birdwatchers such as guided tours, self guided tour information, up-to-date sightings, and bird ringing stations. Creating infrastructure including bird reserves, trails and observation hides. A list of the IOC's birding centers can be found here.
Birding Festivals- The IOC hosts the Hula Valley Bird Festival in the Fall and the Eilat Bird Festival in the Spring.
For information on the Hula Valley Bird festival: http://www.hulabirdfestival.org/
For information on the Eilat Bird Festival: http://www.eilatbirdsfestival.com/