There are more than 450 species of birds across Canada, but not one of them has been designated as our national bird — a title that for too long hasn’t been made official. In 2015, the team at Canadian Geographic magazine decided it was time to change that.
Welcome to the National Bird Project, the goal of which is to help designate an official bird for Canada by 2017, the country’s sesquicentennial. We asked Canadians to help find a species that could represent this nation of forest, prairie grassland, Arctic and sub-Arctic, maritime and wetland, agricultural and urban areas and many other habitats, and tens of thousands answered that call, voting for their favourite species and contributing thought-provoking and convincing comments, many of which were moving or funny. Canadians, it’s clear, love their birds.
Voting closed on August 31, 2016. Canada’s top five favourite birds, as decided by popular vote, are shown below.
THE NEXT PHASE
The Royal Canadian Geographical Society is convening a panel of experts on September 19, 2016, to advocate for the declaration of a National Bird and to debate which species they believe are most worthy of the honour.
David Bird, Professor Emeritus of Wildlife Biology, McGill University
Shirley Ida Williams, Professor Emeritus of Indigenous Studies, Trent University
George Elliott Clarke, Parliamentary Poet Laureate
Alex MacDonald, Senior Conservation Manager, Nature Canada
Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, will provide opening remarks about why birds are important to Canadians.
Tickets to the panel debate are $10 and are available on eventbrite.ca. Can't attend the event? To watch the live stream starting at 7 p.m. EST or a recording of the debate after the fact, click here, and join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtag #canadabird.
The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s official recommendation for Canada’s National Bird will appear in the December 2016 issue of Canadian Geographic, on newsstands Nov. 21.