Gray jay blues – They want WHAT to be Canada's national bird?
Canadian Geographic announced the gray jay as its pick for Canada's national bird Wednesday night at a Royal Canadian Geographical Society dinner at the Canadian War Museum.
We’re sorry, but this decision seems so … bird-brained.
We refer, of course, to the recommendation of our honourable colleagues on the editorial board of Canadian Geographic that the gray jay – the gray jay, of all avian species! – should get top honours as Canada’s national bird.
Perhaps if it were referred to by its more lyrical name, whiskey jack, we’d be in less of a flap. Perhaps if the gray jay had been voted most favoured fowl by the thousands of Canadians who took part in the magazine’s own online poll, our feathers wouldn’t be as ruffled. But it landed THIRD – behind our beloved Common Loon and the magnificent snowy owl.
The magazine’s National Bird Project, launched in 2015, drew more than 50,000 votes from across the country, and lots of people sent in comments too – a brilliant bit of patriotic marketing for the magazine. And it had reasons for choosing the gray jay, such as the bird’s presence throughout Canada, the fact it doesn’t migrate and it's a lover of winter, even laying its eggs in February. (Plus, fun fact, the bird was once actually known as the Canadian jay, so maybe it was time to reclaim our bird’s birthright.)
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the gray jay is “deceptively cute” and “intrepid.” According to Canadian artist Robert Bateman, “Like Canada, the gray jay is a quiet bird but not shy. In fact, it is friendly in a gentle way which is the way I like to think of us Canadians.”
On the other hand, no one could compare a gray jay’s song, distinctive as it is, to the haunting call of your basic lake loon, or the tidiness of its overall appearance to the eerie dignity of the snowy owl.
This could have been worse, of course. Canadian Geographic could have ended up recommending the pesky, squawky, poop-everywhere-on-everything Canada goose for top honours.
So, OK, the gray jay it is. But will Canada’s Major League baseball team now have to change its name?