A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

birds of a feather: the bald ibis in Syria

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on December 26, 2006

For the first time ever, MSN Messenger’s news scroll displayed a video I wanted to see: a five minute National Geographic feature on the Society’s efforts to track the bald ibis in Syria.

Here is the link:

http://video.msn.com/v/us/v.htm?g=ddbf19c1-4b6c-4618-8b9a-17443a3e47e8&f=imbot_us_default&fg=rss

The birds are found in the desert near Palmyra/Tadmor, and they are beautiful:

syr200401s.jpg

(Well, the bird in this image is not beautiful, but it was one of the few to connect the bald ibis with Syria.)

A National Geographic team has been working in partnership with Syrian authorities and local Bedouin to tag and track the birds. Tagging was done last summer, and researchers have followed the birds’ progress south through Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, across the water into Eritrea and now Djibouti.

An article published last July about the tagging and tracking operation is available here:

http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2006/07/bald_ibis.html.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has posted the birds’ progress, which is mapped via satellite, here:

http://www.rspb.org.uk/tracking/northern_bald_ibis.asp.

Syria has been in the news many times in 2006, but most of the media attention has gone to political developments. Meanwhile, the country has witnessed some of the most exciting archaeological discoveries in decades, as well as zoological ones such as this. Donning my historian’s tweed, I predict that in fifty years’ time, these will be the events for which the year is remembered, not the vagaries of up-and-down Syrian-American relations.

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