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National Bird Project - Vote for Canada's National Bird
National Bird Project - Vote for Canada's National Bird

Welcome to the National Bird Project

Thank you for your help determining Canada's national bird!

There are more than 450 species of birds across Canada, but until now, not one of them has been designated as our national bird. In 2015, the team at Canadian Geographic decided it was time to change that, and founded the National Bird Project with the aim of declaring an official bird for Canada by 2017, the 150th anniversary of Confederation.


Photo: Steve Phillips

We give you the gray jay. Also known as the whiskey jack or Canada jay, it is Canadian Geographic’s official choice for National Bird of Canada.

The gray jay (Perisoreus canadensis in Latin, Mésangeai du Canada in French) lives in all 13 provinces and territories — the friendly spirit in Canada’s wild northern boreal and mountain forests. It remains in Canada year-round, is neither hunted nor endangered, and from the Atlantic provinces to the West is an indicator of the health of the boreal and mountain forests and climate change, inspiring a conservation philosophy for all kinds of northern land uses. The gray jay has long been important to Indigenous Peoples, and will draw all Canadians to their national and provincial/territorial parks, yet unlike the loon and snowy owl, it is not already a provincial or territorial bird.

Read more about why Canadian Geographic chose the gray jay for our newest national symbol.

How the National Bird Project worked

Phase 1
In January 2015, we asked Canadians to vote for a bird 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. Almost 50,000 people answered that call, voting for their favourite bird and contributing thought-provoking and convincing comments. Voting closed on August 31, 2016, leaving Canada’s top five favourite birds, as decided by popular vote.

Phase 2
The Royal Canadian Geographical Society convened a panel of experts in September 2016 to debate which species they believe are most worthy of the honour. For this Can Geo Talks event, Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, provided opening remarks about why birds are important to Canadians. Read about the debate and watch the video.

Phase 3
The Royal Canadian Geographical Society made its official recommendation for Canada’s National Bird at its College of Fellows Annual Dinner on Nov. 16, 2016, and a feature story about the gray jay will appear in the December 2016 issue of Canadian Geographic. Get it on newsstands Nov. 21, or subscribe today.

The Top 5

Gray jay / Whiskey jack

Common loon

Snowy owl

Canada goose

Black-capped chickadee

Browse through all of the birds that were in the running below:


7918 votes

Gray jay / Whiskey jack

3324 votes

Black-capped chickadee

1680 votes

Common raven

1037 votes

Blue jay

226 votes

Red-winged blackbird

193 votes

Canada warbler

171 votes

White-throated sparrow

121 votes

Cedar waxwing

103 votes

Pine grosbeak

99 votes

Dark-eyed junco

59 votes

Tree swallow

36 votes

Harris's sparrow

24 votes

Brown-headed cowbird

Upland and Game Birds

174 votes

Spruce grouse

131 votes

Rock ptarmigan

84 votes

Ruffed grouse

34 votes

Sharp-tailed grouse

Wading Birds, Gulls and Shorebirds

617 votes

Great blue heron

431 votes

Arctic tern

128 votes

Whooping crane

50 votes

Sandhill crane

Woodpeckers and Hummingbirds

353 votes

Pileated woodpecker

246 votes

Ruby-throated hummingbird

79 votes

Northern flicker

35 votes

Black-backed woodpecker

Loons, Waterfowl and Seabirds

13995 votes

Common loon

3616 votes

Canada goose

764 votes

Atlantic puffin

146 votes

Belted kingfisher

52 votes

Tundra swan

44 votes

Bufflehead (duck)

21 votes

Common murre


8948 votes

Snowy owl

538 votes

Red-tailed hawk

346 votes

Peregrine falcon

311 votes

Great gray owl

245 votes


198 votes

Golden eagle

195 votes

Northern saw-whet owl

68 votes


59 votes

Northern goshawk



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