Human-animal interactions: Hospitable locals play host to storks for ages in Iran

TEHRAN, Jun. 16 (MNA) –Iranian hospitability never failed to bring back the storks from their wintering grounds; oddly enough erecting nesting sites endlessly on their roofs remained favorable to the birds, showing that the relationship between them is peculiarly an intimate one.

Always caring about the birds which are regarded as symbols of blessing and are believed to bring luck and peace from long ago, have led to their flourishing in the country even despite climatic variations.

Years ago, storks have managed to find a way of living with humans, preferring human settlements and rooftops for nesting to more natural habitats like treetops, and surprisingly, humans also have rarely attacked or persecuted them.

Myths about the storks’ immunity goes back to ancient beliefs; in Egypt it was believed that their souls were human, while in the ancient Greece beliefs storks have been protectors of elderly people and take care of the aged parents while living on their roofs. The Greeks also held that killing a stork could be punished by death.

The storks were also revered in Islamic beliefs which held that storks were thought to go on pilgrimage to Mecca, where they headed for after staying in Iran.

Some of the long-established folklore linked the arrival of newborns with the long-legged bird.

In Iran, residents in western and southwestern regions encourage storks to nest on their rooftops even by constructing purpose-built high platforms, which not only benefits the birds, but attracts many tourists coming to the villages in spring and summer expressly to see the storks.

Mousa Madhajji, an environmental expert told ISNA that the greatest population of storks and storks’ nests in the country is in southwestern Khuzestan province, as this year 57 active nests have been identified in the province, which belong to white storks.

Temperate species like the white stork, black stork and yellow-billed stork live in Iran who undertake long annual migrations in winter, he said, adding, stork population started to decline in the country and some areas which were once home to flocks of storks are not witnessing even a pair of them such as Ahvaz city.

Although, there have been times when the population had fallen to fewer than some pairs in the entire country, even in places identified with the white stork for centuries, conservation measures successfully increased the population of birds thanks to the locals’ efforts, he stated.

The nests are typically used for years, so nest change is often related to a change in the pairing and failure to raise young the previous year, and younger birds are more likely to change nesting sites, he noted.

Dezfool city currently holds the highest number of active nests in the province, which are mainly set up on the power towers, he stated.

He went on to say that due to the birds’ tendency to nest on high settlements specially electricity towers or lamp posts, electricity distribution companies can turn to bird-friendly associations and build them safer man-made nests on the power towers.

This can flourish the stork’s population in the province of Khuzestan and to expand in other areas favorable to these species, he highlighted.

With the start of summer, locals started to build tens of nests for storks in the western city of Marivan, Kordestan province, which attracted many of the storks to stay during the warm season.

Bird population increase over time mostly demonstrate a direct relationship between the flourishing of bird species with human flourishing; storks are also likely to expand whenever the buildings and human-inhabitation expands, however, there have been cases that human population raise have resulted in bird species population decline, yet historical ecology may be a reminder to realize that how much blessing “birds” can bring us and how human must reconcile with nature.

MNA/TT

News Code 146521

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