In any given year, Ottawa’s Bluesfest attracts some 300,000 music fans from around the country, but it’s 2018 and apparently nothing can go according to plan. This year, a mother shorebird has taken up residence on the grounds where the festival’s main stage should be.
Organizers were forbidden to move her nest because her species falls under federal protections.
The eggs were first discovered by setup crews last week when they noticed the bird, a killdeer, displaying erratic behavior.
"I saw a bird about five feet [1.5 meters] away flapping its wings at me. So I backed away and then it ran off and pretended it had a broken wing," Nate Graves, head of the festival construction crew, told Canadian outlet CBC News. Killdeers will often dance about as if their wings are broken to distract predators from their nests and young.
"I've seen that before. I knew it was protecting a nest. I looked [and saw] there's four eggs right where [the] main stage sits."
Last week, biologists from the National Capital Commission visited the site. Naturalist Michael Runtz told the news agency that cobblestone paths are the perfect nesting ground for killdeer, whose eggs are the same color as small stones and blend in well.
Populations of the robin-sized shorebird have declined as much as 50 percent since the 1970s and have placed it on Canada’s Migratory Birds Convention Act. Although populations are still relatively plentiful throughout Canada, environmental agencies still have to give approval for moving the nest, which could be trouble for the soon-to-be mother of four. Runtz says moving the bird even a few feet could force the mother to abandon her eggs, which typically take anywhere from 24 to 26 days to hatch.
On Tuesday, June 26, organizers were finally given the greenlight to move forward with relocating the nest to a "nearby suitable habitat". An individual trained to handle migratory birds will move the nest.
Until then, organizers are pulling out all the stops to protect the mother. The nest area has been blocked off with caution tape and a security guard has even been assigned to ensure nobody messes with the momma.