The Jerusalem Post

Jewish-Muslim teamwork uncovers two owl nests inside Taiba mosque

Despite living in region of geopolitic­al complexity, these birds know no borders

- • By BEN BARUCH

Follow the owl and you will reach coexistenc­e.

Owls, which are normally bad omens in Muslim culture, brought Jews and Muslims together on Saturday.

Ahmad Zu’aba, who lives near a mosque in the Arab city of Taiba in central Israel, reported a fledgling owl with broken wings to Israeli animal ambulance Chaibulanc­e.

Tzukit Raviv, who responded to the situation, notified Rami Haviv and Kobi Merom of the situation. They are involved with the national initiative to use owls and falcons instead of pesticides in farmland.

Zu’aba took the two researcher­s to the mosque near where he found the injured owl, and they discovered two nests of owls inside the mosque.

These owls are an important part of Israeli agricultur­e. There are currently 5,000 owl nests on farmland in Emek Hama’ayanot and the Jezreel Valley. They act as natural pest killers, as a family of owls hunts between 2,000 and 6,000 rodents each year, according to the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.

Haviv and Merom are currently searching the mosque for more nests.

“This nesting was unrecogniz­ed, and thanks to Ahmad Zu’aba’s exemplary citizenshi­p, we learned about another pair [of owl nests in addition to the] 5,000 bird boxes in agricultur­al fields,” said Prof. Yossi Leshem, an SPNI member, ornitholog­ist and professor at the Tel Aviv University School of Zoology.

With the breeding season on the horizon, the owls need a suitable place to reproduce. However, there is no intention to bring them to the farmland. The researcher­s attached transmitte­rs to the owls they found, healed the injured owl and returned it to the nest.

Despite living in a region of geopolitic­al complexity, there are no borders for these owls. They hunt and live freely on Israeli, Palestinia­n and Jordanian farmland.

“In my opinion, the peace dove has failed in its role in the Middle East – and the owl has replaced it with great success in connecting Muslims with Jews and connecting neighbors,” Leshem said.

There’s a saying in Muslim culture that one who follows the owl will be led to doom. But in this case, it led to an important discovery about a bird that helps keep Israeli and Palestinia­n produce healthy to eat.

 ?? (Courtesy) ?? THIS INJURED owl, found in the Arab village of Taiba, led owl aficionado­s to nests inside a nearby mosque.
(Courtesy) THIS INJURED owl, found in the Arab village of Taiba, led owl aficionado­s to nests inside a nearby mosque.

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