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Long-lost songbird reappears after 50 years

The return of the blue-cheeked bee-eater has birders buzzing.

November 3, 2015 | Latest Photo Prev Next
bee-eater birdbee-eater birdPhoto: BigBoom / Shutterstock
November 3, 2015 | Latest Photo

There's a catchy new song whistling through the natural world, and it comes from a rare, beautiful songbird. The blue-cheeked bee-eater was sighted by bird-watchers in Israel for the first time in 50 years this October.

“All of a sudden, from out of nowhere, a flock of some 30-40 blue-cheeked bee-eaters appeared over the Yerucham Lake Park. There was no mistaking them as their colors and calls filled the air,” Eyal Shochat, academic manager at Hoopoe-Yerucham Center of Ecology and Ornithology, writes in the Israeli Birding Porthole. “The blue-cheeked bee-eaters are rare spring migrants at Yerucham and this was the first time ever they showed up here in fall, quite a distance from their traditional migration route in the Jordan Valley.”


Once ornithologists heard the songbirds’ cries, they played recordings to attract them to the nets they had set up in order to tag other birds. They caught six and tagged them to further study the birds' migratory patterns.

“It seems their arrival was an announcement to us that the mystery of where they’d been all this time was about to be solved,” Shochat posted.

bee eaterThis particular species of bee-eater probably eats more dragonflies than any other type of food. (Photo: Mark Bridger/Shutterstock)

Israel is a popular spot for migrating birds; the country's Hula Valley in particular hosts millions of birds every season. This has contributed to a bird-watching culture that is falling out of its nest over this new finding.

“Having a second, large population in Israel is exciting news, as it will surely support the existence and conservation of this rare species internationally,” Shochat writes.

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Related Topics: Animals, Environment