Bethlehem Swifts: a message of peace and love

Bethlehem Swifts: a message of peace and love
7 March 2022

The story of conserving birds in the most sacred place for Christians, the nativity church, which for many centuries served as a perfect nesting site for migratory birds called the swifts. Countless swifts have been using the cracks in the ancient wall of the church and would return to it almost the same day every year. These birds are very special, they eat, drink and mate while flying, and a pair of them would eat 10000 insects per day, providing by that environmental and health service to humans. Unfortunately, all these cracks were completely closed in the last renovation in the church.

As a replacement, the Hanns Seidel Foundation with its Palestinian partners initiated a project in 2019 for installing 73 nesting boxes 500 meters away from the holy place, on a wall of a nearby school called Terra Sancta. Through the project, the students of the school and the scouts are involved in trainings about nature conservation. Each year they make a welcome ceremony to receive the swifts and maintain the nesting site.

The project succeeded and became an educational site for other students from all over Palestine to come and learn about it. The site will further grow as a bird watching point and an attractive ecotourism destination for domestic or inbound tourism and by that contributing to the local economic development of Bethlehem.

The stakeholders are involved, they gained knowledge about the importance of developing ecotourism sites economically and environmentally. In 2020, the first biodiversity exhibition in Palestine was implemented in the nativity church square by Terra Sancta school to raise environmental awareness of the community along with Environment Quality Authority and under the patronage of the Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh. 

 

Watch the attached video. Available in English and Arabic. 

Brochure: Available in Arabic