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

Upland and Game Birds

Spruce grouse (Falcipennis canadensis )

Votes: 174


Spruce grouse
Photo illustration: Canadian Geographic; Photo: E.D.Smith / CG Photo Club

Found in every province and territory, this chicken-like bird is thick bodied, with mostly dark-brown upperparts and black underparts with white bars on its breast. Its head is mainly black and features red eyecombs. A boreal species, the spruce grouse prefers thick pine or spruce forests.

IDENTIFICATION
(Both Sexes)
Weight 400-650 g
Length 39-40 cm
Wingspan 57 cm
Spruce grouse range map
Range map courtesy iBird for Windows
Click to enlarge

Vote for the Spruce grouse for Canada’s National Bird


Essays

Comments and essays appear in the language in which they were submitted

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This National Bird Project is great! Congrats.

I've written a weekly birding column called The World Outdoors for the London Free Press and Sun Media since 2011. For Canada Day 2013 I too addressed this national bird theme. Here's a link to that column: http://www.lfpress.com/2013/06/28/the-world-outdoors-high-time-canada-names-a-national-bird

About the spruce grouse, I wrote: "I would put the spruce grouse on a short list. It lives in Canada year-round. It is a handsome bird that even has some red highlights. It can be seen in every province and territory and it is almost uniquely Canadian. In fact, it’s Latin name is Falcipennis Canadensis."

Here's is an excerpt from the column.
The World Outdoors: High time Canada names a national bird
By Paul Nicholson, Special to QMI Agency
Friday, June 28, 2013

It’s Canada Day weekend and our country doesn’t yet have a national bird. This can be fixed. After all, we have the beaver as an official emblem and we even have a national horse.

Every province and territory has an official bird. Ontario’s is the common loon. The loon is sometimes mistakenly thought of as Canada’s bird.

Many countries have official national birds such as the bald eagle in the U.S. or New Zealand’s kiwi. Mexico even has two, the golden eagle and the crested caracara.

A national bird for Canada could result in a boost in national pride and a bit more interest in our country’s natural beauty. I can even imagine a modest economic bump.

If a bird was established as a national emblem, it would make sense for it to meet some basic criteria. For example, the bird should have wide distribution across the nation.

An all-season resident of Canada would make sense. We would want a distinctive species and ideally a bird not already claimed by another jurisdiction.

A number of people have made suggestions in the past. David Bird, an ornithologist with McGill University, author of many bird books, and until last year a birding columnist with Montreal’s The Gazette, proposed the gray jay.

After suggesting seven criteria, he presented a compelling case. The gray jay is a smart bird that is found across the country. It is both tough and attractive and was once known as the Canada jay.

A downy woodpecker would be a legitimate candidate. The Canada goose has the right name but I’m not sure there would be broad-based support for this species. Some non-birders consider it to be a nuisance.

The red-tailed hawk has been suggested by James Cowan of the Canadian Raptor Conservancy. This organization has even lobbied for a national bird. “We have over 80,000 names on our petition,” he said. Cowan has been working with his local MP, Diane Finley.

I would put the spruce grouse on a short list. It lives in Canada year-round. It is a handsome bird that even has some red highlights. It can be seen in every province and territory and it is almost uniquely Canadian. In fact, it’s Latin name is Falcipennis Canadensis.

To establish a new official national symbol for Canada, it would have to be recognized by an Act of Parliament, by Royal Proclamation or by a Ministerial declaration.

I recently asked James Moore, Canada’s Minister of Canadian Heritage why we don’t have a national bird yet and learned that “the Government of Canada is not actively considering proposals to adopt a bird as a national symbol.”

We do celebrate birds on coins. In addition to the ubiquitous loonie, a Canada goose was featured on the 1967 silver dollar and a rock dove was on the penny that same year.

I was surprised to learn that the Royal Canadian Mint has produced a number of specialty coins that feature birds. Some have full colour imagery.

Since 1946 there has been a history of featuring birds on Canadian postage stamps. Several dozen images ranging from the western grebe to the Atlantic puffin have beautified our mail. To view these, search on “birds on stamps: Canada.”

The spruce grouse was featured on a 34-cent stamp in 1986. One of my favorite bird stamps features the Canada warbler. This beautiful species breeds across Canada and could be in a conversation about a national bird.

Do you have a suggestion for Canada’s national bird? Let me know, or tell your Member of Parliament. They would love to hear from you.

a humble and hardy species, very canadiana

I just really like it cause it looks like my favourite bird, The quail and fat burds would be everything for our nations flag

Cet oiseau occupe une grande partie du pays, il permet de pratiquer le sport de la chasse et fait partie des traditions des premiers habitants de ce pays qui est immense.

I think it has some very interesting values and that it not only is approachable but show great interest of the things around it.

Oiseau local, uniquement au Canada.
D'un océan à l'autre.
Gibier de choix, il fait le plaisir des gastronomes.

c'est un oiseau qui se trouve partout au Canada

i am an American citizen; however, I have always been enamoured with Canada. In my travels of your country, I have come to appreciate Canada in a way that reading about your great country cannot encapsulate. While many Americans may associate the Canadian goose with Canada, I feel that this is a disservice to the rich diversity of birds that Canda has to offer. And I feel that the Spruce grouse is a far superior choice for the Canadian national bird.

Though I am not of your country, I have spent time in your lands. When I think back on this time, there is only one true candidate that stands out to me. It's hardiness, functional beauty and ability to survive in at times inhospitable environments are both inspiring and powerful. The spruce grouse is clearly the ideal representative to uphold your nation's glory.

The fact that this bird is found in every Province should prevent anyone "grousing" about the selection.
Further it remains here during our cold winters and does not migrate like many of our "Snowbirds" that head for warmer climes.
It even grows its own "snowshoes" for the winter and enjoys taking long walks in the snow.
It must be a true Canadian since I've never heard one grouse about the cold.
It is said that this grouse is the least vocal of all grouses so what else could you wish for?

J'aime cet oiseau très calme, malin et résilient.

Présent partout au Canada

Le Tétra du Canada mérite le titre d'oiseau national selon moi parce que je le trouve particulièrement beau. Il arbore nos deux couleurs nationales, le blanc et le rouge. Il se retrouve dans toutes les provinces et territoires du pays, il est parfaitement adapté à nos quatre saisons et il porte déjà Canada dans son nom. De plus, les rencontres avec cet oiseau sont toujours plaisantes, souvent en forêt lors de moments calmes et magnifiques, pour moi des moments de paix.

J'invite les gens à voter pour l'oiseau qu'ils préfèrent et qu'ils aiment vraiment et non pour un oiseau qui a déjà plusieurs votes. Je déplore que l'on puisse voir les votes, plusieurs votes en seront malheureusement influencés.

I choose Spruce Grousse for national bird, because I find that bird particularly beautifull. It shows the two national colors, red and white. We can see it in every provinces and territories, it is perfectly adapted to our four seasons and in french we can find Canada in is name, Tetra du Canada. Plus, every time I saw this bird, it was in the forest during calm, magical and peacefull moments.

I invite everybody to vote for the bird they really like and not for a bird that already have a lot of vote. I deplore that we can see the votes, many votes will unfortunatly be influence by that.

The Spruce grouse is the only bird that is year round in all the provinces and territories.

Mon choix est basé sur le fait que cet oiseau réside en permanence sur l'ensemble du territoire canadien et cela en toutes saisons. Lorsqu'on le rencontre en forêt, il suscite notre attention par sa majestuosité et sa nature calme puisqu'il est très peu farouche. Il est l'emblème de nos forêts de conifères. Il mérite pleinement le titre d'oiseau national de Canada puisque son nom 'Tétras du Canada' en fait déjà mention. Je lui souhaite la meilleure chance pour qu'il se voit attribuer cet honneur.

Mon choix repose sur le fait que cet oiseau réside en tout temps sur le territoire canadien et cela en toutes saisons, sauf l'Alaska et quelques parties d'états-uniens en bordure du Canada. Lorsqu'on le rencontre dans nos forêts au détour d'une promenade, il suscite notre attention et notre respect puisqu'il est beau, tranquille et majestueux. Il est l'emblème de nos forêts. Il mérite donc le titre d'oiseau national du Canada. Je lui souhaite la meilleure des chances.

I think it is most important to have a bird that actually spends the majority of its time in all parts of Canada.

parce qu'il vit à l'année au Canada ET je crois aussi que ça ne doit pas être l'emblème d'une province.

Spruce Grouse are located all across Canada from Newfoundland to British Columbia. They are mainly in the Boreal Forests. They eat fruit, berries, insects and conifer needles. The males are more ornate where the females are a dull colour. They make a clucking sound when they are frightened or alarmed. The meat is a dark purple in colour and they are tasty game bird.

I think that the national bird should have a year-round distribution throughout Canada, and be fairly unique to Canada. I also believe that our national bird should not be already claimed as a provincial bird. This will give recognition to a new species amongst Canadians. The spruce grouse fits these criteria, and also is an amazing animal to witness. As a game bird, they represent Canada's hunting and fishing pastimes, and as a boreal forest native, they represent an ecosystem that is pervasive throughout most of Canada. This is a true Canadian bird.

Spruce Grouse represent Canada since they are found all over the country all year round.
They also represent our vast nature and our beautiful boreal forest, one of our greatest natural beauty.
They are a bit ellusive but it is a total joy when you have the chance to see one. Their little red crest over the eye recall the classic canadian color.
I think it is not a well known species, not as popular then the loon or the snowy owl but it represent an ecosystem that predomines all over our vast country.

Oiseau qui habite notamment les forêts boreales et qui survit dans des conditions extrêmes.

Oublions les oiseaux de proie qui sont associés aux sociétés agressives .

I saw a spruce grouse in Algonquin Provincial Park last summer and I thought it was a beautiful bird. That is why I think it should be the National Bird of Canada

Not a city bird so the Spruce Grouse will not be on most peoples radar. However this bird has saved many people lost in the bush as it is fairly easy to catch. It is also in every province and survives the worst weather.

Spruce Grouse are delicious. What other reason do you need?

Cet oiseau habite tout le territoire du Canada. Et de plus le nom du Canada est dans son nom.

I vote for the spruce grouse, the species whose distribution is by far the most associated with Canada. Also, this is a species strongly associated with the boreal forest, a habitat that couldn't be more representative of Canada.

Je vote pour le Tétras du Canada, l'espèce dont l'aire de répartition est de loin la plus associée au Canada. De plus, il s'agit là d'une espèce qu'on ne retrouve qu'en forêt boréale, habitat on ne peut plus représentatif du Canada.

A common forest game bird.

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