Canada’s National Bird: The Grey Jay!

It may or may not be news to you, but for the past while, Canada has been searching for a national bird. Starting with forty contestants, then narrowing down to 5, it has been an intense period of voting on exactly which species to choose.

The decision to have a national bird is (another) way of celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary, which is fast approaching. In the end, the five finalists were voted on by the public, but the winner was decided by a committee with members from the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl, second in the voting

At the end of the voting period, the Common Loon had the most votes, followed by the Snowy Owl, and then the Grey Jay. The other two contestants were the Canada Goose, and the Black-capped Chickadee.

Unfortunately for the owl, loon and chickadee, they had all been claimed already as provincial birds. The Snowy Owl in Quebec, the Common Loon in Ontario, and the Black-capped Chickadee in New Brunswick. This, according to the deciding committee, ruled them out.

Common Loons

Common Loons

That left the Canada Goose and the Grey Jay.  The Jay has a lot going for it in that battle.
The Canada Goose is despised in many places, by many people. It is considered a pest; it eats crops, spoils public parks, and, to top that off, has a renowned bad temper. Is this the bird that Canadians want representing them? Frankly, it goes against the current public view of us as a kind, gentle group of people who couldn’t be temperamental if we tried. That is a bit of an exaggeration, but it conveys the general idea.

Who, me? Temperamental?

Who, me? Temperamental?

The Grey Jay, on the other hand, is a hardy little songbird, braving the north cold, and storing and remembering vast numbers of caches. It comes across as cute, intelligent and yet still tough, perching on your hand to take a seed while its mate devours a vole, or insect. Oh, and it was called the Canada Jay for over two hundred years.

Grey Jay

Grey Jay

Although I personally would have chosen the Pine Grosbeak, I believe that the Grey Jay, or Whiskey Jack, is the best choice out of the five contestants. Tell me what you think in the comments!

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak

4 thoughts on “Canada’s National Bird: The Grey Jay!

  1. Kaleigh Johnston

    That’s awesome! This is a really good Blog Ethan! I loved the photo’s you put, the Grey Jay is very beautiful and I am glad to have it as our national bird 😀 I personally have 3 favorite birds one is the Magpie for the fact that they are beautiful creatures and I once saved one. Second one is the Snow Owl, The magnificent snowy feathers they have and adorable and sweet big eyes makes them very nice to see. Third is the Hawk, with its pride in life and is so strong and beautiful. Its a cool world out there. Nice Blog Ethan.

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  2. Gramma

    Good explanation of the selection process. I understand the whisky jack name will not be used because it is an anglicized version of the Indiginous name. I am not sure how common they are in our area but certainly farther north and even in Algonquin Park they are abundant.

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  3. BirdBoy Post author

    Thank you!
    It is a Corvid, as are Magpies, other Jays, Crows, Nutcrackers and Ravens. I may post again about them, yes. Most jays, do not, in fact have the crest, as in Green, Brown, and Scrub Jays.

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  4. Diana

    Well-written, Ethan, and thanks for the lovely photos. I knew the search for a national bird was on, but I hadn’t heard about any of the voting steps along the way, so thanks for announcing the decision. I wonder if you could tell us more about the Grey Jay in another post? Size, habitat, etc. and is it part of the corvid family? It doesn’t seem to share the Blue Jay or Stellar’s Jay ‘look’ (no crest, short beak).

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