Adjacent to Israel's Parliament building (the Knesset) in the heart of the city lies this paradisaical refuge for native and migrating birds - and for people. Whether you're touring Jerusalem or live here, the JBO is not to be missed! Every morning ornithologists net, band, measure and release birds - and you can watch them close up (and hear the bird species name and a bit of explanation about each one) in the bird ringing center - and even release a bird yourself - pretty magical. Attached to the bird ringing center is the bird hide (also known as a bird blind) from which you can comfortably check out birds bathing in the pond or nibbling on peanuts strung to a tree, without disturbing the birds yourself. Across the way is the Gutman Visitor Center, featuring amazing movie shorts revealing Jerusalem's wildlife wandering through the urban nature that continues to provide habitat, nature-based art exhibits, a gift shop and more. The JBO offers all kinds of workshops and events which are usually free or at a nominal cost - and you can plant a tree there any time of year, by arrangement. Trees planted are chosen according to usefulness to the various species of bird visitors, and do in fact add to the sanctuary substantially - you can see how the natural haven has been created by tree planters before you the moment you enter the area.
Have you seen the Bulbul or the Hoopoe (Israel's national bird!) while wandering Jerusalem? I have - and I recognize these birds and other native and migrating species thanks to random strangers in the bird hide, who will name the birds for you or lend you their binoculars - and from the excellent JBO guides.
I have visited the JBO during every season, every month, for many years, as have hundreds of regular volunteers - you can only discover why people keep coming back (like an addiction) by seeing for yourself, but I have to give credit to the truly charming staff and volunteers, who give amazing tours in several languages every week. Thousands of schoolchildren come every month, families, photographers, artists and tourists come to glimpse something special or to relax in the chillest oasis amidst bustling and loud Jerusalem. Here you will find a bit of tranquility, learn something new, and see something first-hand that you'll be thinking about with a smile for the rest of the week.
The Jerusalem Bird Observatory is a project of the non-profit Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, is completely free to visit, and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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