Professor Yossi Leshem is a world-renown ornithologist, which means birdwatcher. He is known in Israel as the “Birdman”, working at the Department of Zoology of Tel Aviv University, Israel.
No matter how small is Israel, her location makes the country the center of birds’ migration from Europe to African and from Africa to Europe. During the migration seasons, in total, approximately one billion birds pass through Israel, half a billion twice a year.
In a cozy breakfast meeting, arranged by Rosalie Lurie, Senior Director and David Dorfman, Associate Director, of Western Region of American Friends Tel Aviv University, I was privileged to hear Professor Leshem speaking about the fascinating subject, the studies of birds’ migration, a subject I am sure most people will shrug shoulder as a sign of no interest.
Remember the story of Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger, III, the US Airways experienced pilot who landed flight 1549, to safety, in the Hudson River, Manhattan? Sullenberger was hailed as a national hero in the United States when he successfully executed an emergency water landing of his aircraft, on January 15, 2009, after the aircraft was disabled by striking a flock of migrating Canadian geese during its initial take-off climb out of LaGuardia Airport. All of the 155 passengers and crew aboard the aircraft survived.
Only because of Sullenberger’s piloting expertise and his cool disposition the accident ended in the fate it did.
The truth is that the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has shoved the incident under the carpet because they do not want to deal with birds’ migration problems caused to aviation and take the required accidents’ prevention measures.
In Israel the story in much different. In three decades Israel lost 11 aircrafts due to a bird colliding with the flying steel bird.
Tel Aviv University allows an extensive research to find ways to avoid birds’ collision with aircrafts, especially when all species arrive to and leave from Israel almost at the same day. This program is in conjunction with the study of birds’ migration.
Professor Leshem has built a system of radars all over Israel that monitor the entire country and detect birds’ migration, which help aircrafts to avoid collision with birds. This program has saved Israel Air-Force (IAF) approximately $1 billion with 76% success rate.
The program also uses Border Collie dogs that love to chase birds and help reduce aircrafts’ collision with birds.
Professor Leshem was instrumental in expanding the studying and tracking of birds, now a network collaborating between all continents, which also helps the environment.
Birds’ migration is a hobby that gets people together. There are one hundred million birds lovers in the world who want to see as many birds as possible at once. Israel, the small land it is, congested with migrating birds during the migration season, is a good place for such hobby.
The majestic bird, the eagle is one bird that attracts many birds’ watchers. While the USA there are two eagle species, the Bold and the Gold, in Israel there are 12 species of eagles.
The national bird of the United States it the eagle. Israel has picked its own national bird as well; it is the hoopoe.
Known to be a leading country in innovation, Israel is also a leader in the study of birds’ life that brings countries to work together, even Israel’s hostile countries next door.
Dr. Yossi Leshem keeps the skies of Israel safe and he works to make the skies all over the world safer and thus change the world for the better.
They say that the saying “bird’s brain” is incorrect because birds are not stupid. Politicians for sure will not solve problems, birds just may.