The Palestine Sunbirds

לחולצת הצופיות הבוהקות

We are students in the fifth and sixth grade at “Sdot Yoav” Elementary School in Kibbutz Gat, located in central Israel. Most of us are members of our school’s Green Leadership group, promoting biodiversity and nature conservation as well as sustainability. We meet once a week with Ayana Dagan, who directs the group, and go birdwatching around school and its surroundings. We learn about birds, observe bird behavior, and practice identifying species visually and acoustically. Even post-school hours we go birdwatching, each in his own neighborhood.

For the Champions event two of our fathers will join our team. They are nature enthusiasts and will assist us in bird identification, as well as drive us. Our group is named after the Palestine Sunbird, which was selected three years ago as our school bird. This will be our first time as participants in the Champions of the Flyway. We look forward to participating in an international nature conservation and sustainability venture. It is also important for us to help the globally-endangered Steppe eagle. As customary for the Champions event, we ask for your sponsorship. Your donation will fuel education, advocacy and law-enforcement activities aimed to help Steppe Eagles in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, where eagles nest and are most vulnerable. Some of the money will be allocated for infrastructure improvement, such as erecting elevated nesting platforms and installing power lines insulation. We will appreciate any amount you can give for this important cause!

Our team was recently joined by Tzur Magen, an experienced veteran birdwatcher. Tzur led birding groups at Sdot Yoav school and has paved the way to our participation in the Champions of the Flyway, we are happy and proud to have him with us!

לוגו שדות יואב חדש סופי להדפסה

Meet the Team:

Uriya Fitoussi

My name is Uriya Fitoussi (11), I was born in Kibbutz Beit Govrin – a very small settlement in the middle of Israel.
Ever since I was a very young boy I loved being outside in the nature, exploring and looking at beautiful animals and plants.
2 years ago, I joined a bird watching group at school and I enjoyed it very much. Unfortunately, it was cancelled due to lack of participants.
I was very excited when it was offered at the “Green leadership” at school, which I am part of, to join the Champions of the Flyway.
I mostly enjoy the fact that I can watch birds everywhere, and I love the owls tree nearby to my school.

Eytan Chen

My name is Eytan Chen, I live in Bet Nir and I’m 12 years old. I’ve always loved nature. My father used to take us out to the field and every once in a while I would go birding with him. I participated in Tzur Magen’s birding club for a year a half, which was held in my elementary school. Since then I love birds very much, connected with them and learned to identify them.
When I was told about the Champions of the Flyway I immediately knew that this is what I want to do. I asked my father whether he would join me and he agreed. We practice together towards the competition and we learned to recognize birds by their calls and song. In general I enjoy birding very much. This is why I’m participating in the Champions of the Flyway. I expect the competition enthusiastically.

Michael Alon

My name is Michael Alon, I live in Kibbutz Negba and I am 12 years old .
I am really like traveling in nature to keep it and its animals and so on Earth .
The Champions Chicks program gives me a great deal of knowledge on a topic I love very much .
During the program I learned a lot about the birds and how to identify them even by their own voice, I would always travel and identify birds but my most favorite are the diurnal raptors and nocturnal raptorsof all sizes and colors .
I am part of a team called the Palestine Sunbirds and I think my relationship has been very strong with all the members of the group and that is also a very important part of this show.

Matan Azoulay

My name is Matan, I’m 12 and live in Kibbutz Negba.
I love nature and think it is very important to the earth and also very beautiful.
The Champions of the Flyway Project gives me more knowledge in the field and develops my love for nature.
As part of the project, I learned how to spot birds and today, I am even able to spot the European robin bird even by hearing. Identifying the first bird type is an important landmark and therefore, the European robin is a bird that I love very much.
Several students from my school are participating in the project. The joint activity with them has greatly strengthened my relationship and friendship with them and in my opinion this is also a very important thing to gain from the project.

Ayana Dagan

My name is Ayana Dagan, I am 63 years old and I live in Kibbutz Revadim. I’m married to Haim and we have three children and two grandchildren that I hope will continue on my way.
I became interested in bird-watching and nature when I started learning teaching at “Oranim” Seminary, thanks to the indefatigable enthusiasm of my illustrious biology teacher-Arie Abulafia. Since then, I’ve been dealing with bird-watching and nature in my work and leisure. I teach nature at “Sdot Yoav” Elementary School in Kibbutz Gat and guide students that study bird research. With the help of green leadership students I lead, I set up a garden inviting birds and butterflies in our school. I am excited to see special phenomena or rare birds with my students, and I am happy to see students walking on my way. I’m proud to be part of the team” the Palestine Sunbirds”, And glad to participate for the first time in the Champions of the Flyway bird race together with my students.

Roni Alon

My name is Roni Alon, I live in Kibbutz Negba and I am 55 years old.
To this day, I remember the invitation to come bird watching in the Gush Dan Oxidation Pools with the kibbutz’s older bird watchers. I was only 12 years old. The excitement was tremendous, new binoculars were bought for the event, the sandwiches had a special taste than usual. We saw mostly waterfowl and the experience burned in my heart forever. Today, after years of passive birding, following my son’s participation, Michael in the birding project as part of the group of the Palestine Sunbirds, the childhood memories of many birding, fun and educational hours have returned to me.

Ron Chen

My name is Ron, I’m 45 and live in Kibbutz Bet Nir in the Judean plain in Israel. I’m an ecologist, zoologist and wildlife tracker; married to Yael, a vet, and father of four boys. I work in Tel Aviv University in HaMaarag, conducting nation-wide biodiversity monitoring.
My connection with birds starts with my strong connection to nature – I simply love being outdoors. My PhD research focused on movement, sociality and seed dispersal of jackdaws. The research site was near Bet Nir, and to this day I still spot c-ringed and GPS-tagged individuals that I marked, although several years have elapsed.
I strongly hoped that my kids will share my love for nature, and was delighted when Eytan decided to compete in Champions of the Flyway and asked me to join him. I expect a thrilling experience!

Tzur Magen

I started birding with the mythological bird-watching club of Be’er Sheva in the 1980s. It was clear by then that bird-watching was for life. It turns out that the bird-watching clubs are also a habit I cannot quit!

I guided a youth birding club in the Negev many years ago and in recent years I am guiding several clubs in central Israel. Currently I’m guiding the Youth birding club at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory and a group of kids form 3-6 classes at Sedot Yoav regional council, among many other projects dealing with conservation, education and any combination of these fields.

And a word about Tzur – He is an experienced and appreciated guide by the young birders and therefore it is only natural that he will lead the Sunbirds, especially in light of his proven experience – winning in the Israeli race of the first Champions of the Flyway (together with the group of the Black-winged Stilts).