The Grey Jay: Canada’s Unsanctioned National Bird

The Grey Jay (Perisoreus canadensis) is a corvid, part of the family of Crows, Magpies, and other Jays. Last year the Grey Jay beat out the Common Loon, Black-capped Chickadee, Snowy Owl, and Canada Goose for the title of “Canada’s National Bird”.

Grey Jay. Image Credit: Cephas CC License 3.0.

Grey Jay. Image Credit: Cephas CC License 3.0.

After a vote (of nearly 50,000) and debate, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society named it Canada’s national bird — although it doesn’t have an “official” standing.

A panel of experts, organized by the society, discussed the top five picks after the vote, and the Grey Jay won. You can see how the votes were tallied here.

This was all part of Canadian Geographic’s “National Bird Project“. Citing that despite having more than 450 species of birds in Canada, “not one of them has been designated” as a national bird, they set out to pick one through the project.

The project is now finished, but there are still a lot of opinions floating around about the pick.

Image Credit: Audubon Free Library Plate 107 Canada Jay Final

Image Credit: Audubon Free Library Plate 107 Canada Jay Final.

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CBC News wrote that the bird was picked because of its range and that it “embodies the Canadian spirit” — friendly, fun, bold.

Canadian Geographic also wrote that the Grey Jay was an excellent pick because it lives in all 13 provinces and territories, remains in Canada year round, is not hunted, not endangered, and because it is used as an indicator for the health of the forest, it inspires a “conservation philosophy for all kinds of Northern land uses”.

Furthermore, the Society stated that it would “draw all Canadians to their national and provincial/territorial parks”.

But, the Canadian government never sanctioned the vote and as of July 2017 they are not considering proposals.

According to the CBC, Canadian Geographic had thought their efforts would be enough to get the ball rolling for choosing a national bird — unfortunately, that’s not happening, at least not right now.

Canadian Geographic never lobbied the government.

The CBC reported that Canadian Geographic never lobbied the government.

The Grey Jay is also know as: Gray Jay, Whisky Jack, Canada Jay. It can be found in parts of the U.S. in Alaska and parts of the Western mountain range.

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