The geographic location of the Arava and its primal landscapes make it one of the world’s most important bird migration routes. The arid desert conditions and unique ecosystem enable rare bird species to nest and thrive. Among the most important species, desert birds such as the Arabian babbler, black tail, desert lark, desert swallow and warbler are common. The Arava is also used as a last resort in the country by rare species such as the acacia warbler, skylark, the desert owl, and recently, Nubian nightjars were observed in the salt flats.
Since 1971, research has been conducted in the Shizaf reserve and area focusing on the biology, ecology and social behavior of the Arabian babblers, a songbird living within a complex social system. The entire population of babblers in the research area is banded. The history of most individuals in the 20 groups living in the study area is known by the researchers. Based on the babbler population in Hatzeva, major scientific theories in sociobiology were formed, specifically understanding the communication between the individuals, the “handicap principle” and understanding the meaning of altruism among babblers and in nature in general. The results of this study were published in a book on the handicap principle and the social life of babblers, as well as in dozens of scientific articles. So far, the book has been translated into four languages.
Additional research is now being conducted on other bird species, and a migratory bird banding station is functioning in the Shizaf Reserve.
The knowledge gathered in the research station is an important part of developing an observation station for the systematic collection of data on Arava migration, the biology of desert birds and the interaction between desert birds and birds that reach agricultural areas because of humankind.