Bye, bye blackbird

Photo by Stephen JaquieryIt is bright, airy, warm, sheltered from the wind and gets afternoon sun.

Sounds like the perfect home.

But a traffic light on one of Dunedin's busiest streets also comes with drawbacks - constant heavy traffic, flickering lights and the potential to be moved on for safety reasons.

Nevertheless, a hardy Dunedin blackbird chose to make a Crawford St light's cowl its home while raising its young.

Department of Conservation ranger Graeme Loh said it was not unusual for birds such as sparrows, rock pigeons, swallows and dunnocks to nest in urban places, especially on roofs or other nooks and crannies in buildings.

''They're worried about rats. The top of a pole is very rat-proof.''

Dr Yolanda van Heezik, who specialises in urban biodiversity, said blackbirds were among the bird species which had better adapted to cities.

''They're very tolerant of the modifications to their environment as part of the urban system. But ... this is pretty extreme.''

The challenge would be whether the Crawford St bird could successfully raise her chicks, as they typically did not have much success in urban environments, given they fed on invertebrates, Dr van Heezik said.

Dunedin City Council contract manager Peter Hughes said it was the first time he had heard of a bird nesting in a Dunedin traffic light.

The bird, however, would need to be removed, as it could cause an accident by distracting a driver or obscuring the view of the orange light.

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