Birds and their protected habitat have halted a major road-widening project in south Ottawa.

Barn swallows, which are listed as threatened under Ontario's Endangered Species Act, are currently nesting at the Jockvale Bridge in Barrhaven.

The bridge is being demolished to make way for the second span of a new bridge, plus two lanes of traffic, that would flow into the Stonebridge subdivision.

But the Ministry of Natural Resources has stopped that project because the swallows are protected.

It is illegal to disrupt their habitat during nesting season, which lasts from May 1 to Aug. 31, and the ministry said it warned the City of Ottawa that swallows could nest at the bridge.

The city would have been able to continue without worry if the birds were removed prior to May 1.

'Frustrated to the max'

Coun. Jan Harder, who represents the Barrhaven area at city hall, said the project should still go ahead. She is worried it won't be finished before winter.

"We are just trying our best to get this project done on time because it's that important to the community, to the residents and to the businesses, and to the safety of pedestrians and cyclists," she said.

"The fact that somebody may say, 'We may not be able to do it until September because there's a nest of barn swallows'?

It just, on so many levels, sounds so stupid to me that I am frustrated to the max," Harder said.

She said she's asked city staff to report back on the possible costs caused by any delay.

The ministry has informed the city that some work could continue during the nesting season.

Altering a Barn Swallow's habitat