Saturday, April 27, 2013

Apus apus, the Common Swift, loves Jerusalem


As the swifts circled above the Western Wall Plaza Wednesday evening, representatives of major faith groups each gave a blessing for the closing session of our First International Jerusalem Symposium on Green and Accessible Pilgrimage. 
Our Jewish Deputy Mayor is on the left, next to a Hindu woman, a Muslim imam, a lady rabbi, an American Baptist preacher, and a man living in the Far East speaking for Shintoism.
You can find more about them in the conference speakers page.

But in my previous post I explained about the Common swifts who return to the Wall every spring and promised to tell you more. 
Here are just a few tidbits I learned in the three days of lectures and round tables:

Prof. Uriel Safrir spoke about the nature of Nature and said that in 40 days of brooding in Israel, each pair of swifts eats 35 million small flying insects.
In this way the birds save us from being "eaten" by these bugs, thus rendering a cultural service, even a disease regulation service.
Swifts, except when nesting, are in continual flight.
Unlike other birds, they cannot just jump up off the ground and start flying.
They need to be a least 2 meters high to jump out and get enough lift to start flying.
That's why they like to nest in the nooks and crannies of old stone walls and old buildings.
The problem with modern architecture is that buildings are so tightly made, of glass and steel or whatever;  no room for the swifts.

So, as Prof. Yossi Leshem revealed, the Israeli army donated 2,000 old ammunition boxes and school kids in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv  made them into swift nest boxes.
Lotan Center writes that  "Leshem has established (with the Israel Ornithological Center) a peace and education initiative, Migrating Birds Know No Boundaries, that allows about 250 Israeli and Palestinian students to track migrations.
 Students meet at the Latrun center to study and band birds. The German and American governments help sponsor the initiative."
See more such blessed initiatives in Prof. Leshem's abstract of his Symposium lecture "Birds: Pilgrims without boundaries."
Our government rightly declared birds to be a national heritage.
The Bible long ago talked about birds in Israel:

"Even the sparrow finds its home and the free bird her nest where she laid her young,"
says Psalms 84:4.
 גַּם-צִפּוֹר מָצְאָה בַיִת, וּדְרוֹר קֵן לָהּ--    אֲשֶׁר-שָׁתָה אֶפְרֹחֶיהָאֶת-מִזְבְּחוֹתֶיךָ, יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת--    מַלְכִּי, וֵאלֹהָי

In Jeremiah 8:7 the prophets says, "The turtledove, the swift and the crane observe the time of their coming."
 גַּם-חֲסִידָה בַשָּׁמַיִם, יָדְעָה מוֹעֲדֶיהָ, וְתֹר וסוס (וְסִיס) וְעָגוּר, שָׁמְרוּ אֶת-עֵת בֹּאָנָה
Indeed, these birds never fail to arrive at the Western Wall (the Kotel)  right on time.

See Chabad's nice article on The singing stones of the Kotel

Here's a nice little video of the swifts and those who love and help them, from last year's ceremony at the Wall.
And how swift are swifts?
At level flight they can reach 70 miles per hour!
(Linking to Camera Critters meme.)


Hels said...

the Israeli army donated 2,000 old ammunition boxes so that school kids could make them into swift nest boxes. Perfect! Peace and environmental care will be the take home message!

Petrea Burchard said...

I am greatly impressed by the peaceful, happy meeting of these religious leaders. They're an example I'd like us all to follow.

Spiderdama said...

Very interesting post. Beautiful bird, and I think most special for this is to sleep and eat in the air.

VP said...

Love the idea, but I am still very suspicious about any kind of bird...

Pia said...

I like the psalm you quote. This is an interesting post Dina!