Children living in red light district

A pair of blackbirds look after their chicks in a red light cowling at traffic lights in Dunedin...
A pair of blackbirds look after their chicks in a red light cowling at traffic lights in Dunedin yesterday. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

A pair of Dunedin blackbirds have chosen an interesting spot to look after their young.

The birds chose to make their nest in a red light cowling at traffic lights and were photographed yesterday.

It is not the first time blackbirds have nested in Dunedin traffic lights and back in 2014 a blackbird nested in an orange light in Crawford St.

A blackbird nested in an orange light in 2014. Photo:Stephen Jaquiery
A blackbird nested in an orange light in 2014. Photo:Stephen Jaquiery

At the time 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.

In 2014 contractors were called in by the Dunedin City Council to remove a blackbird's nest and eggs from a Crawford St traffic light, after it was deemed a distraction for motorists.

However, as the nest was being removed, it disintegrated and the contractor dropped the eggs, he said.

 

Comments

Why not just add another 'pod' when puttng in lights? Be kind to these urban birds.

It is interesting that the birds shown are happily nesting in either the amber or red light housings. Many birds are generally not affected by longer wavelength light such as red or amber. No nest is shown in the green housing, shorter wavelength light to which birds are more sensitive. This is something to think about with the shift to white led street lights which contain shortwave length blue and green light!