I hope to become well acquainted with these guys in the next week or so. The Hoopoe is mentioned twice in the bible (Lev 11:19 and Deut 4:18) as a bird you’re not supposed to eat. I don’t want to eat him, but I’d love to see him. Jesus was well acquainted with Hoopoes.
I’m off to Israel in a few days — my first trip of hopefully many. I decided that for this first time, I wanted to see Israel’s natural places. I want to see the landscape of Israel as Jesus saw it. It’s my biased belief that all the churches and tourists traps which have been built on the “holy” sites would detract from the experience. Instead, I booked a tour with a birding group called “Wings.” It’s a 10 day trip that covers the entire country — south to north. I look at it this way: if I tried to do the holy sites first with a tour or as a church group, I’d be distracted by the birds anyway and not much good to the group. This seems like a good alternative.
I’ll look for the birds that Jesus would have seen and known, in the settings he would have walked through. I likely won’t see Bethlehem or Capernaum or Nazareth or even Jerusalem, but I’ll go to the Dead Sea, and the Sea of Galilee, and the Negev wilderness of Judah and Mt. Hermon. And with some luck and the movement of the Spirit, just maybe I’ll get a feeling for Israel as it was 2000 years ago.
There’s a potential list of 300+ birds on the trip. I’m making the birds that are specifically mentioned in the bible a priority: raven, dove, quail, partridge, eagle, vulture, nighthawk, gull, owl, cormorant, water hen, stork, heron,sparrow, swallow, hoopoe. Most of these include a couple of different species, but the Hoopoe is unique.
What will I find in the Holy Land? I hope I’ll find lots of amanzing birds. But even more, I hope I'll find a deep and abiding connection to the land where Jesus walked.