VISITORS to the Winnipeg Folk Festival this weekend are being urged to drink lots of water, protect themselves from sun -- and try not to trample the baby killdeer.
A killdeer hen has built a nest in the middle of the Birds Hill Park festival site, forcing organizers to erect a fence around the eggs to protect them from as many as 14,000 daily visitors.
Festival staff initially feared the bird was a piping plover, a species at risk in Manitoba, whose nests require special protection because there are less than 20 breeding pairs remaining in the province.
But Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship confirmed the hen is in fact a killdeer, a related but far more common species. The eggs were still fenced off, as provincial officials advise against disturbing wildlife.
"It has a little nest right in the middle of the festival site. It has a four or five eggs," said Lynne Skromeda, the festival's executive director. "They noticed it a few weeks ago and everybody was hoping the eggs would hatch in time. They didn't, so we've taken steps to protect it."
The bewildered-looking killdeer hen has remained with her eggs during the evening Mainstage concerts, to the relief of officials.
"Although it is not rare, we felt it was best to try to protect the nest, during the festival," provincial spokesman John Thorpe said in a statement. "If people are trying to feed it popcorn or other food, this is not a good idea, as such food left nearby may attract other less desirable critters."
-- Bartley Kives