The nest, on the site of Bluesfest in Ottawa belonged to a killdeer, a protected species in Canada. Beck, Dave Matthews Band, the Foo Fighters and Shawn Mendes are some of the headline acts.

A killdeer bird has laid four eggs in a nest right by the planned location for the main stage at the Ottawa Bluesfest, Canada.
A killdeer bird has laid four eggs in a nest right by the planned location for the main stage at the Ottawa Bluesfest, Canada. (AFP)

A bird's nest in an Ottawa park came close to derailing preparations for one of Canada's largest urban outdoor music festivals.

In less than two weeks, an estimated 300,000 music fans are expected to flock to the capital city's riverfront Lebreton Flats neighbourhood for the annual Bluesfest.

Tickets for the July 5 to 15 event, which this year features headliners including Beck, Bryan Adams, the Foo Fighters and Shawn Mendes, have been on sale since February.

Danger of extinction

But a killdeer, named for its penetrating squawk that sounds eerily like "kill deer," has laid four eggs in the area where the main stage is to stand, bringing preparations to an abrupt halt.

Its numbers have halved since the 1970s. The diminutive brown and white birds and their nests are protected under Canada's migratory birds law.

On Tuesday morning, yellow caution tape surrounded the cobblestone pedestrian roundabout where the bird made its nest, while two guards hired by the National Capital Commission kept a round-the-clock watchful eye.

Nearby, construction crews sat idle, waiting for the go-ahead to start setting up the stages, railings, portable washrooms and food and drink kiosks. 

It's not clear when the bird laid its eggs, which typically have an incubation period of 24 to 28 days.

"This is one of the most challenging problems we've been presented with, but we feel we can work through this," Bluesfest executive director Mark Monahan told reporters on Monday.

The Foo Fighters are one of the bands headlining Bluefest 2018 in Ottawa.
The Foo Fighters are one of the bands headlining Bluefest 2018 in Ottawa. (Ottawa Bluesfest)

Possible delays

If the situation was not resolved quickly, he added, the festival – which organisers say contributes more than $30 million to the local economy – could face "some delays that could start to snowball."

Monahan said possibilities included moving the nest or gathering up the eggs and sending them to a wildlife centre for hatching.

Wildlife experts, however, warned against disturbing the nest, saying it could lead the parents to abandon the eggs.

On Tuesday afternoon, the government issued a permit "to allow the relocation of the nest to nearby suitable habitat," Caroline Theriault, spokeswoman for Canada's environment minister said.

"The relocation will allow the nest to remain and eggs to hatch in the natural environment. In the event of nest abandonment, eggs will be transported to a rehabilitation facility to provide the best probability for survival," she added.

Source: AFP