I plead guilty.

For almost 15 years and counting, I am treated bi-annually to an awe inspiring spectacle of nature. No. I’m not referring to a meteor shower or eclipse of the sun.

You see, I am fortunate enough to live just at the edge of the Great Rift Valley, a continuous geographic trench that runs some 3,700 miles from Mozambique into Lebanon. In addition to all of the magnificent geological activity this area has been treated to over the millennia such as earthquakes and such, the valley also hosts migrating birds twice per year, making their way back and forth from/to Africa.

Lots of birds. Lots and lots and lots of birds. Probably a lot more than you would imagine.

Something like a half billion birds per year. Yes. I wrote billion.

And so as summer or winter comes to an end, just over my home, flocks of thousands fly over.

Pelicans. Storks. And cranes.

For the diehard enthusiasts, a fantastic bird watching sight was established up in the Hula Valley. But still, nothing beats the aerial show we are treated to as these millions upon millions of birds fly over our homes each and every year.

So what am I guilty of?

More often than not, visitors to Israel are quite impressed with the tremendous amount of construction taking place here. And I don’t just mean the new high speed rail that will soon connect Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, or Tel Aviv’s own light rail system. Or the major new development taking place in Jerusalem. Or the country’s highways and rail lines. or Eilat’s new airport.

I’m talking about all the construction and development taking place throughout Israel.

Wherever you go, cranes. Lots and lots of cranes.

And as a tour guide, I plead guilty to often using the cliche’, referring to all these cranes as “our national bird.”

Guilty as charged.

And now, I can even see cranes from my bedroom porch.

Fifteen years ago, I moved into this quiet community established 40 years ago in the Judaean desert overlooking the ancient city of Jericho, Mitzpeh Yericho. There were barely 200 families living here at the time. Everyone living here at that time knew everyone else living here.

Being in the desert added to the extreme isolated feel the community had. Although it isn’t even a half-hour’s drive to Jerusalem, It’s still a place, quoting my wife “of just sand and sky.” To top that off, our home was located in one of the more isolated areas of our community. Only last year was a bus stop brought to our part of town. (And what a celebration that was!)

But that was 15 years ago. The population in “Mitzpeh” has more than doubled since then. We are approaching the 500-family mark.

And last week, the cranes arrived. And I can even see them from my porch!

Another 100 families will be moving in once the first stage of construction is completed. And then hundreds more. A new internal road will soon be paved. I hear the asphalt trucks rumbling at five in the morning. And more homes will be going up in other areas of “Mitzpeh” as well.

But the cranes!