Nature and Parks Authority ecologist says some species are more active compared to summer, while plants adapt and develop strategies to make the most of rain; adds Israeli winter is actually full of life

Noam Fisher|01.04.23

Winter is full of life and activity for Israel’s wildlife and vegatation.

While during the winter season elsewhere, cold temperatures cause many species go into hibernation, in Israel animals thrive and some are even more active than in the summer months.

עופות נודדים במזג אוויר חורפי
Birds fly during a rainy weather
(Photo: Doron Nissim)

“The Israeli winter is mild and comfortable. Some migratory species even stop in Israel and do not continue south,” says Dotan Rotem, an ecologist in the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

רקפות, גן לאומי ארבל
Flowers bloom in Israel during winter
(Photo: Gil Lapidot)

“During the hot summer, we know some species are relatively less active, while during the Israeli winter, there may be rainy days, but mostly the temperature is comfortable, and the vegetation flourishes and grows significantly,” Rotem said.

Shrew, for instance, are tiny mole-like mammals that prey on insects, arthropods, and mollusks, all of which emerge from the ground during the winter.”

פרחים לאחר הגשם
Raindrops sliding off a flower
(Photo: Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

“It is fair to say that the Israeli winter is actually full of life. We live in a desert environment where almost nine months are very dry, hot and sunny, and there are only three to four months of rain. And that’s when wildlife is active across Israel, there is almost no hibernation here,” Rotem explained.

פרחים לאחר הגשם
Flowers blossom after the rain
(Photo: Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

He said plants adapt to rainy days. “They develop different strategies to take advantage of the rain. Some will keep their petals closed to protect their stamens. While others grow face down to the ground.

“They must protect themselves from water when the temperatures drop. Water has a tendency to expand as it freezes, and could tear the plants’ soft tissue and leaves. So, trees do hibernate in winter and only wake up in spring.”

שבלול החרמון
A snail crawls out after winter rain
(Photo: The Tisch Family Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem)

“The rain often reveals winter ponds in Israel, which attract spices to them for a short while before they dry up again for the year. It is a time for reproduction and regeneration before the heat returns.”