Grounds area blocked off to protect nesting burrow
The Mount Allison University has been quieter than usual this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw many students studying remotely and employees working from home.
A family of birds saw this solitude as an opportunity.
A Belted Kingfisher nesting burrow was discovered last week in Mount Allison’s Grounds maintenance yard. Several holes were identified by Sean Blaney, Executive Director and Senior Scientist at the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre, which is also located on the University campus.
Blaney spotted the nest in the bank on his commute to work. He sees kingfishers fishing regularly on his pond located at the front of his property.
“There isn’t a lot of natural habitat for kingfishers, who make their nests in banks, nearby,” explains Blaney. “A lot of these birds are like commuters, they nest in banks, like the one on campus or ones out on the marsh and feed in local ponds and marsh areas like the Waterfowl Park.”
Mount Allison’s campus services supervisor Will O’Reilly, who oversees the University’s grounds and custodial crews, says he was excited to hear about the kingfisher nests.
“The burrows are in a pile of fill soil we use for projects across campus,” he says. “Once Sean notified us about the birds, we blocked off the area and will not be disturbing it during the nesting period throughout the summer.”
According to Blaney, kingfishers have approximately 24 days of incubation, followed by 29 days inside the nest before the young fledge and leave the nest. The site could be active into the last half of July.
As New Brunswick adapts to the Yellow recovery phase, some campus activities have started to resume, following Public Health protocols. These include some on-campus research programs and necessary services as the University prepares for the Fall 2020 academic term.
A reminder that the University campus currently remains closed to the public. Community members should monitor the kingfisher nest from a safe distance off-campus. The burrows are visible from the King St. sidewalk.
Photo credits: Sean Blaney and Ilya Povalyaev, Macaulay Library