After years of decisions and an outcry of public votes, Canada has named its new national bird, the grey jay.
The grey jay, or whiskey jack, was voted upon by over 50 thousand people in an online poll. Other birds in the running included the common loon, the snowy owl, the Canada goose, the black-capped chickadee, the common raven, the blue jay, the atlantic puffin, the great blue heron and the pileated woodpecker.
The common loon, Ontario’s provincial bird, and the snowy owl, Quebec’s provincial bird took first and second place on the voting list. However, it was decided that since the common loon and snowy owl already hold positions as provincial birds, they should remain as such, and nothing more. The bird in fourth place, the Canada goose, was also deemed an inappropriate choice due to its large urban presence from Georgia all the way to Germany.
The grey jay is well known in the boreal forests of northern Canada, and has not only been named one of the world’s smartest birds, it is also well known to be extremely friendly and interactive with humans. Many letters and comments could be read at voting time, submitted by people very passionate about their experiences with the grey jay.
This bird, roughly the size of a stellars jay, has been known to land in hiker’s hands when offered a tasty snack. It is also an extremely brave little animal, as it bears its chicks in the cold of winter. The grey jay sometimes dips down into the northern United States on vacation, but is most commonly found in evergreen and mixed evergreen-deciduous forests in the north of Canada as well as the high mountain ranges of British Columbia.
To many, this bird represents beauty, intelligence, kindness, and exclusivity/uniqueness. I believe this is why it was chosen to become Canada’s national bird, and I for one, couldn’t be happier. Being an avid birdwatcher and admirer of nature, I have observed many species of birds and the stellars jay is one of my all-time favourites. Although I have personally never seen a whiskey jack, I will be on the lookout for this national symbol the next time I pay the mountains a visit.