If you had to guess Canada’s national bird, which would you choose?
The loon? The blue jay? The Canada goose? The resourceful Toronto pavement pigeon?
Actually, it’s the gray jay. Never heard of it? It’s not that you’ve been living in a nest – the gray jay was only named Canada’s national bird by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in late 2016.
And with such a forgettable name, it’s no wonder the gray jay has struggled to draw recognition worthy of its title. Well, that’s about to change, because a committed crew of Canadian birders have ruffled together a proposal that would see the Gray Jay revert back to its original name: the Canada Jay. The name change will go into effect this July.
“What could be a more perfect bird for Canada, besides all the other reasons why it makes a great choice, than having it named after our country? ” said the fantastically named Professor David Bird, the B.C. ornithologist who lobbied for the bird’s status as a national symbol a few years ago.
A little history: The soon-to-be-Canada-jay became the gray jay in 1957. It had been called the Canada jay since its classification in the early 1800s. A 2015 contest by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society saw it beat out the common loon, the snowy owl, the black-capped chickadee, and the Canada goose to be recognized as Canada’s national bird.
Canada’s bird community is aflutter over the news.
“I just feel that this bird so embodies Canadian personality and psyche,” said Bird. “It’s so friendly, it’s intelligent, it’s hearty. And that, to me, epitomizes the Canadian spirit.” (It’s apparently one of the smartest birds in the world).
With the gray jay getting a name befitting of its excellence and the potential legalization of marijuana lined up for July, this might be the biggest Canada Day since, well, last year.