Grey jay rouses Canadian interest in brids

Named national bird, bringing attention to Canada's diverse species

It’s not the loon, or the snowy owl.

The Royal Canadian Geographic Society has named the grey jay Canada’s new national bird.

After a national survey, the grey jay, also known as the whiskey jack, was unofficially given the title. It originally finished in third by votes, but after a public debate, the committee let it fly past the owl, the loon, and chickadee for the national bird title.

Some are questioning why this is the bird to represent Canada, but Mark Peck, program director of the Toronto Ornithology Club and technician at the Royal Ontario Museum, sees this process as more than just naming a national bird. Rather it’s the start of a new curiosity for birds in Canada.

“It’s brought birds into the discussion and into the forefront,” Peck said. “I hope it will make people more aware and interested in the natural history around them. It’s a nice thing that this introduces some of our biodiversity to the general public.”

This announcement comes jut before Canada’s 150th anniversary.

But others have criticized this decision, commenting on the unfamiliarity that citizens have with the grey jay compared to better-known birds. Even Don Cherry has questioned it on Twitter.

Like many Canadians, Peck is still on the fence about this decision. He believes the final decision should go to the votes of citizens.

However, Peck says the Grey Jay is a fitting choice for its characteristics that it shares with Canadians.

“They’re tough, smart, and friendly,” Peck says. “The nice thing about the Grey Jay is that it’s a permanent resident of Canada.”