No matter what country you visit, they all tend to have their own official bird. These birds represent the nation. For example, the USA famously has the bald eagle, while the UK has the robin. However, rarely among the countries of the world, one in particular that does not have its own official bird: Canada. Instead, each Canadian province and territory has its own bird. Each bird is unique to a single region, and locals are very proud of them. In this article we will look at a few of the official birds of Canada.
Canada’s national bird controversy
Although Canada doesn’t have an official national bird, there are many who think it should. In fact, there have been several events and protests about it over the years. One difficulty is that there are over 450 bird species in Canada. Therefore, selecting the right bird to choose such a huge country is fraught with controversy. Nevertheless, there are firm favourites. In a parliamentary debate, the Common Loon and Snowy Owl received the most votes among the hundreds of species under discussion.
Despite this, the government’s panel eventually recommended the grey jay to represent Canada. Yet, up to today, there is still no official bird. To recognise any bird as Canada’s national symbol requires an act of Parliament. Even today, supporters are still debating the choice of a national bird. The purpose of a symbolic bird is to represent Canada’s spirit, resilience and other national characteristics. This can mean different things to different people.
The grey jay — Canada’s favourite?
Although it is true that the Gray Jay hasn’t yet achieved official recognition as Canada’s national bird, it is certainly synonymous with the nation. Its scientific name is Perisoreus Canadesis, but many people know it instead as the camp robber, whisky jack, or the Canada Jay. This bird lives in the forests of North America, especially the Rocky Mountains. It reproduces after two years and mates for life. Canada Jays live alone or in couples. They spend most of the day foraging on the forest floor. At night, they keep warm by tucking their heads under a wing.
Official Canadian provincial birds
Each province of Canada has its own official bird, which is celebrated at local events, portrayed on flags and often used as a regional logo. They also find use as mascots for provincial schools, sports teams and businesses based in the region. These provincial birds form an integral part of Canadian culture. Let’s take a look at some of the birds that represent the Canadian provinces.
First, we have Ontario with its Common Loon. This bird has the honour of appearing on Canadian currency. It is an aquatic bird, with large webbed feet. Like the grey jay, these birds are monogamous. Females and males defend their territory and breed together for over a decade.
The snowy owl is native to the country’s freezing Arctic regions and is one of the official symbols of Quebec. This bird has several unique adaptations to its habitat and lifestyle, which make it quite distinct from other owls. It is the only owl with largely white plumage.
The colourful Steller jay is a native of British Columbia. Named after the Russian naturalist who first classified it in 1741, it is a noted mimic. It can imitate many other birds and animals. The Steller jay often imitates birds of prey, such as the Red-tailed hawk.
Other provincial birds in Canada include:
- Black-capped chickadee — New Brunswick
- Great horned owl — Alberta
- Blue jay — Prince Edward Island
- Osprey — Nova Scotia
The bottom line
With so many beautiful birds to choose from, it’s no surprise that choosing one to represent the nation of Canada is a difficult task. However, it seems that the government has spoken and the grey jay will soon become the country’s official national bird.