As the Crow Flies, Away

As the Crow Flies, Away

Going in the other direction

And doesn’t. News from Tehran, Iran that the city’s air pollution has become so severe that nightingales, pigeons, and most recently, crows, have left the city searching for new homes. Pollution levels are highest in winter and many of the city’s 12 million human residents wear face masks to protect themselves. No such means of adaptation are available to the city’s birds, who are also fleeing the loss of habitat to urban development. The future for birds and other wildlife in the Iranian capital looks grim. Here’s an excerpt from the UK Guardian (link to article above):

Mohammad Bagher Sadough, the head of the city’s environment agency, said the crow exodus was a sign of a disturbed ecosystem. Eventually the remaining bird species will also leave, turning the city into an urban desert of high-rise buildings and traffic jams.

“Pollution is not the only element in the flight of crows and others birds, but it is among the most important,” he told the Mehr news agency. “Habitats have been destroyed and the perpetuation of bird life has become impossible.

“The continued existence of crows, particularly with the departure of other birds, had given us hope that wildlife could survive in the city. With their migration that hope is fading and our concern over the destructiveness of urban environments has deepened.”

The realities of urban air pollution aren’t lost on Iranian leaders. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who’s been battling illness in recent weeks, recently cancelled a visit to another of Iran’s cities citing severe air pollution. No word on whether the crows there had flown away, too.