Canadian Music Festival Nearly Placed on Hold Due to a Single Nesting Bird

By Ryan F. Mandelbaum on at

Birds couldn’t care less about your human entertainment, and a killdeer certainly isn’t going to change its breeding plans to accommodate Ottawa’s annual Bluesfest music festival.

CNN reports:

This year, preparations for the festival are on hold to protect one very special attendee: a mother bird and her nest. Workers discovered the bird, a killdeer, guarding her four eggs while they were setting up one of the festival’s main stages. The breed is protected by the Canadian government and cannot be moved without federal permission.

Killdeers are quirky migratory shorebirds, and they sometimes nest in odd places—like in the middle of a car park, for example. But even if the birds don’t choose the safest spots to brood, they’re thankfully defended by some very old conservation laws. Back in the early 1900s, humans were really wrecking bird species, hunting many to near extinction for fun or for their beautiful feathers. In response, the United States and Canada signed a 1916 treaty to protect migrating birds.

The resulting law in Canada is called the Migratory Birds Convention Act (MCBA), which was passed in 1917 and updated in 1994. Since the killdeer is on the MCBA's list of protected species, the organisers of Bluesfest had to ask the Canadian government for permission to move the eggs. According to the CBC, there was a risk of the killdeer abandoning its eggs if the nest was moved too far.

Thankfully, a breaking news tweet from CBC Ottawa stated that the nest will be moved to a nearby suitable habitat. The show shall go on.

While it’s a very silly problem to have, it didn’t surprise at least one scientist we spoke to. “They choose some strange places to nest,” Susan Elbin, Director of Conservation and Science at New York City Audubon, told Gizmodo. “We had one nesting in the middle of a construction site on Governor’s Island.” You just need to cordon off and protect the eggs, Elbin said.

The eggs have a three-to-four week incubation period, and then babies are up, running, and flying fairly quickly after hatching. The festival is slated to begin 5 July and will have 300,000 attendees, reports CNN.

Bird conservation is a good thing. If anything, the festival organisers can let the killdeer be this year’s Bluesfest mascot. [via CNN]

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