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

Songbirds

White-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)

Votes: 171


White-throated sparrow
Photo illustration: Canadian Geographic; Photo: Cephas / CG

With breeding habitat in parts of all provinces and territories, this medium-sized sparrow is known for its call, commonly described as having the rhythm of "O-oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada." They have a distinct white throat, black and white crown and face stripes and bright yellow spots between their eyes and bill. They seek out woods and forest edges, regrowth, parks and wooded suburbs.

IDENTIFICATION
(Both Sexes)
Weight 22–32 g
Length 16–18 cm
Wingspan 20–23 cm
White-throated sparrow range map
Range map courtesy iBird for Windows
Click to enlarge

Vote for the White-throated sparrow for Canada’s National Bird


Essays

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

Featured

I am a child of the north, the White-Throated Sparrow is considered the 'Whistler of the North'. All my life from childhood to present, I have been fortunate that I have had the chance to be in many places in the north of Cottage Country. I grew up going to my Aunt and Uncle's cottage in Torrance, Muskoka, Ontario. I first heard the White-Throated Sparrow while sitting on a big rock. To me the bird song sounded like our national anthem: O' Canada. So I called it the O' Canada bird. I never knew the name of this bird until recently, but to me it will always be the O' Canada bird.
This bird has seemed to follow me wherever I go in the north, to Muskoka, to the Haliburton Highlands and presently to Algonguin Park.
This bird symbolizes Canada and this great land of lakes, trees and wildlife.
This is a summer bird, and when I hear this bird in summer it makes me smile. It takes me back to wonderful childhood memories. When I now sit on the dock in Algonquin, I remember those memories, but it also makes me hopeful that life always continues on no matter the struggles and that there are constants in our lives.
I so hope that the White-Throated Sparrow, will be around when I'm old and gray, hopefully still sitting on that dock listening to my O' Canada bird.
Thank you!

Featured

The white throated sparrow gets my vote. Its song pure sweet Canada Canada Canada brings lump in my throat each time I hear it.
No flashy large wingapan bird for me. Just an honest expression of love for our country. Pure sweet Canada.

I live in Kingston, Ont. now but I grew up on the Gaspe in Quebec. I remember every summer waking early in the morning to the most wonderful song of the white-throated sparrow. For me it was such a comforting sound and so cheery and expressed to me what living in our great country was like - joy! Joy to be a canadian, joy to live in such a beautiful country, joy to live in peace. This sparrow may not be the most prettiest or outstanding bird but us Canadians are regular folk, unassuming and not overly flashy. Our downhome hospitality and welcoming style is like the sparrow's song - a welcome to Canada song, a happy to be a Canadian song. Every time I hear it's song I well up with emotion of happiness and expectancy. I hope this little bird wins the vote. Lorna-Jean

I live in Kingston, Ont. now but I grew up on the Gaspe in Quebec. I remember every summer waking early in the morning to the most wonderful song of the white-throated sparrow. For me it was such a comforting sound and so cheery and expressed to me what living in our great country was like - joy! Joy to be a canadian, joy to live in such a beautiful country, joy to live in peace. This sparrow may not be the most prettiest or outstanding bird but us Canadians are regular folk, unassuming and not overly flashy. Our downhome hospitality and welcoming style is like the sparrow's song - a welcome to Canada song, a happy to be a Canadian song. Every time I hear it's song I well up with emotion of happiness and expectancy. I hope this little bird wins the vote. Lorna-Jean

Definitely worth the vote. Beautiful bird and a unique song. Spring is always alive when the white throated sparrow is present.

Whistler of the north
Best song bird in Canada

"I love you Canada Canada Canada." sings the white-throated sparrow

This little unassuming sparrow has the clearest most haunting call and is to me the sound of summer in the wild. At the lake, my mother would call back in her lovely high falsetto voice. She just called it the Canada bird and thought it was the sweetest little thing. I agree.

Everywhere in Canada when in the woods, you know he is there.

It's song makes me extremely happy. A camping trip in Algonquin Park doesn't feel complete if I don't hear its song. Canoeing through beaver meadows, its lovely song is perfect.

White-throated sparrow.

Heard it everywhere I've gone to the horseback riding in the mountains of banff to the deep bush of the Cree, James Bay forest. Seems most fitting to be appointed as Canada's National Bird.

Beautiful songs are sung to let us know what the weather will be like the next day. If you but just listen and learn.

Clear whistled song likened to the phrase:
"My Sweet Canada, Canada, Canada."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sL_YJC1SjHE

The plaintive, melancholy song of the white throated sparrow takes me back to my childhood and summers spent cottaging along the Northumberland Strait in Nova Scotia. I have heard the sparrow's distinctive call much less frequently over the last few years both in Ontario and Nova Scotia. I was delighted to hear it on two separate occasions this past summer while boating on the Trent Severn. I am familiar with the plight of our songbirds and naming the white throated sparrow as the national bird of Canada would shed a light and make more people aware of their peril.

We grew up listening to the song of the White Throated Sparrow first hearing it at the golf course at Emma Lake, Saskatchewan. For the longest time we knew it only by its song as we couldn't locate it in the trees of the forest. As children we spent a bit of time at that fledgling course which had literally been hacked out of the dense forest. Only hearing it we called it the "Golf Course Bird". Of course, we eventually discovered its name & appearance but still referred to it as the Golf Course Bird as we had made it our own personal favorite. We love the lake's Loons, Pelicans, Grebes, Canada Geese, Mergansers and Ravens. We watched them all live, raise their young and fly off to warmer climates in the fall. All Canada's birds are special but this little Sparrow is the most special to us.

unassuming, peaceful and always forgotten

When have you ever gone on a canoe or camping trip, a visit to the cottage, or a leisurely walk in your local conservation area or park and NOT heard the song of the White-throated Sparrow?... Exactly, never!

The White Throated Sparrow was known to me for many years as a Sweet Canada Bird because its call is "sweet, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada. For this reason I believe it should be Canada's National Bird.

I too love "The Sweet Sweet Canada Canada Bird".....I hope it does
Become Canada's National Bird

I can't think of a day in my life when i haven't heard the "Oh Sweet, Canada Canada Canada" call when the sun was out while camping in our vast country.

The White-Throated Sparrow, has the most haunting, identifiable note, heard deep in the bush or in city parks. It is small and gentle yet lively.

To me, the sound of the white-throated sparrow is the sound of Canadian wild.

This is the O Canada bird! Its beautiful call is the voice of spring. It should be our national bird.

The symbolism of the white throated sparrow is significant, showing that something so small can survive through so much. It shows us that small things are just as important, and not to neglect each step of the way, just as the sparrow is vigilante in daily tasks.

It used to be considered a pest, but humans assign that to many animals while neglecting to see our own actions and impact.

I was in Waskesiu recently, and my father has passed away in May. I spent time in back and forth rapport with the white throated sparrow, and so find encouragement in it's meaning.

Thank you.

No other bird's song brings back memories of my childhood summers in Quebec as this small bird's song *ou est tu Frédéric Frédéric*. It brings back images of lying in the tall grass and watching clouds go by on hot summer days and hearing his song that is so catchy. Life was good and so simple.

The white throated sparrow was my most recent lifer!
This beautiful sparrow is common in most of Canada, it is a rare but regular
winter visitor to coastal British Columbia.
The conspicuos white throat,dark bill,black stripes on head,
yellow spots between eye, and rusty upperparts make this sparrow easy to identify.The song which sounds like pure sweet canada canada canada is often heard in eastern Canada.In winter it joins golden crowned or white crowned sparrow flocks.
This little bird deserves to be Canada's National Bird!

The white throated sparrow lets me know I am home...

When people think of Canada, they think of its vast wilderness. This vast wilderness is often exemplified by the boreal belt that stretches coast to coast in Canada. One of the signature sounds of the boreal is the White-throated Sparrow. And what is the White-throated Sparrow saying when it sings? One of the common mnemonics for its song is "Oh sweet Canada, Canada"! This species sings its praise for this country all spring and summer, so I think the least we can do is recognize White-throated Sparrow as the ambassador of Canada's birds!

Son chant est magnifique !

J'aime bien ce bruant dont le chant si caractéristique (Où est-tu Frédéric, Frédéric?) évoque la forêt québécoise. D'ailleurs, au printemps 2015, j'en ai entendu un en pleine ville de Montréal, ce qui est vraiment inusité. Automatiquement, des souvenirs de chalet et de promenade en forêt me sont revenus en tête, tellement ce chant est pour moi associé à la forêt.

Cet oiseau se retrouve en grand nombre un peut partout au pays. Je me suis fait ami avec eux parce qu'ils viennent me visiter en grand à tous les matins. Il y en a même qui entrent parfois dans ma maison. (Les portes arrières de ma maison donnant sur ma cours sont habituellement toujours ouvertes.) Je trouve leur chant et leur présence bien agréables. À force de les observer, j'ai découvert la richesse des couleurs de leurs plumes. Malheureusement, on a tendance à les dénigrer parce qu'ils sont communs.

It was the mascot songbird in Canadas Hinterland Whos Whos videos.

A beautiful song sung with full heart and lungs! From Ontario through the praries to the Pacific coast I have heard this song many times :-) Couldn't be a lovier bird to represent Canada as ornithologists and bird lovers recognize this birds song as "oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada".

sweet songster! heard from my youth to my senior years and in many journeys across Canada.

There are several bird species that make me think of the wilds of Canada but the one that most comes to mind is the White-throated Sparrow. Living just over your southern Ontario border in Western New York, this bird migrates through each Spring and stops by our backyard bird feeders. It then serenades us with "Ohhhhh, Canada, Canada, Canada". Very soon thereafter, I also head north and get a full chorus of White-throated in the Algonquin wilderness. What better emissary can a country have than one that sings its praises!

This little bird is most pleasant to listen to in the boreal forest. I welcomes spring and its song is something to behold.

A bird that seems to sing "oh sweet Canada Canada Canada " deserves a shot at the title of our national bird. It is widespread throughout Canada with 96 % of the population spending part of the year in Canada.

I've lived outside of Canada several times and never realized how much I missed this bird's song. Whenever I returned and heard it singing, I realized I was home. Except for maybe the loon's call, no other sound evokes Canada for me better than the song of this bird. Plus it's beautifully pure.

This is by far my favorite song bird. It always puts a smile on my face. I associate it with spring/summer in Canada. From my earliest childhood memories, this birds song is imprinted into my soul.

No other birdsong evokes my Nova Scotia youth like the plaintive evening call of the white throated sparrow. Has any other birdsong been assigned Canadian lyrics? "Oh sweet Canada-Canada-Canada." There could be no other choice.

Is there a more welcome sign of spring's arrival in Canada than the song of the White-throated Sparrow?
Even if it didn't (allegedly) proclaim its 'Oh, Canada, Canada, Canada' affiliation, this charming songbird would be a wonderful choice as the national bird.
It's found in every province and territory, a helpful forager of weed seeds and berries in woods, fields, and urban areas, and just an all-round nice guy of the bird world.
Because of its size (a largish sparrow) and clear markings, it's easy to recognize by sight or by its distinctive, unhurried song.
Cheerful, industrious, peaceful - could there be a better choice for our national bird?

I have enjoyed these wonderful birds at my feeder all winter. Their royal black and white cap and happy song have won my heart. A bird for all of Canada found in all provinces. Wow!

Most iconic bird song in Canada - and can be heard in all provinces and territories.

Oh Canada, Canada, Canada.

Je trouve que cet oiseau représente bien notre pays puisqu'on le retrouve un peu partout au Canada.

The white-throated sparrow is the best singer ever. He brings so much joy to my husband and I when he sings along our path. We truly love him.

I love the White-throated sparrow's song - O Canada, Canada,Canada.

Aside from the raven this is the only bird i consistently see year round

The White-throated Sparrow is easily our national bird, as its song is: Ohhh Canada, Canada, Canada .....

While Canadians patiently wait for the long winter season to come to a close, it is the sweet sound of the white-throated sparrow that brings a sigh of relief to us all. That first "Oh Canada-Canada-Canada" truly brings a tear to this Northern Ontario residents eye when the snow banks are finally a memory and our fleeting summer is finally just around the bend. This sparrow is like the trumpeter announcing an important message ALL Canadians want to hear...WINTER IS OVER!

My vote is for the white-throated sparrow!

Son chant (Où es-tu Frédérique, Frédérique, Frédérique?) fait partie intégrante du paysage sonore de la forêt boréale. Un souvenir d'enfance, imprégné à jamais...

This is a sweet little bird............and It's "Canada" call says it all!

A true wilderness bird. Beautiful to hear when you are camping in our provincial parks etc.

Tout mignon, le bruant est un merveilleux chanteur qui pousse la note de temps à autre. Chacune de ses performances est enveloppante, relaxante. Son chant est envoûtant, il évoque le calme de la forêt et la liberté.

Quel merveilleux oiseau avec un chant si familier !

J'ai choisi cette espèce car son chant m'apaise et me rend heureuse. De plus, ils fréquentent ma cour.

I pick the Sparrow as it stays in canada all year long. As winter's goes in Calgary it can get pretty cold but these hearty little ones stick around no matter how cold it gets...!!!!!

tres beau chant
Cet oiseau est omniprésent dans les campings de Charlevoix

The most nationalistic bird-- always singing "Oh, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada!" How can you not vote for it?

parce qu'il est présent partout au Canada et que son chant «Cache ton cul, Frédéric, Frédéric, Frédéric» est tellement beau !

il est beau et tout le monde connait son superbe chant : frédéric frédéric frédéric

Would like it to be a passerine, all too often forgotten in these big is best contests. I'd vote for Harris' Sparrow, one of very few endemics, but most of the country would say "what?"

White-throated Sparrows are common throughout most of Canada, easy to see (not shy) and referred to by many non-birdwatching Canadians as the "Canada bird" due to heir haunting song "Oh sweet Canada"

Because it sings "Oh Canada Canada Canada, Oh sweet Canada Canada Canada" (definitely NOT "Old Sam Peabody Peabody Peabody" which is a nefarious plot by some Americans...)

This White Throated Sparrow represents Canada the best by its song and the fact that it is found in all parts of Canada.

I remember this bird from my youth.We said it was singing Sweet Ca na da Ca na da.
It is everywhere.their song is known by all and he is easily recognizable as their name tells what they looks like.
They are in the city and countryside,will visit birdfeeders and bathe in bird baths.
Their song is a sure sign of Spring.It is a cheery song and easily imitated.
I have heard them called Canada birds.
One cannot hear their call without feeling happy.

Ahhh...the elusive white-throated sparrow...you can hear it much easier than see it...that lonely high-pitched sweet Canada Canada Canada Canada...just thinking about it's call brings sunny fields and meadows near forests in Algonquin Park to mind...hear them as you canoe along the shoreline of any lake there...peaceful summer breeze caressing your skin...that beautiful song caressing your ears...mmmm...nothing brings more serenity.

It should be a given that our national bird be a Songbird and not a bird of prey. That established, doesn't "Sweet Canada, Canada, Canada" just about say it all? It certainly did for me as a youngster beginning to learn to identify the sounds of the woodlands. And no-one could put it better than did Professor Roy Fraser in "Happy Journey", his nostalgic memoir of his 1890's Ottawa Valley boyhood: "Be still and listen, and you will hear again,very softly but very clearly, the voices of the river and of the forest - Sweet, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada."

How can there possibly be a contender for Canada's National Bird?

I believe the beautiful White Throated Sparrow represents Canada better than any other bird because they are found in every province and territory. They are easily recognized by their black and white striped head, white throat and yellow eyebrows. Their song (Oh My Canada, Canada, Canada) is one of the most recognized of all birds, even by children.

Its a really cute bird and i have seen them almost everyday and well I'm happy about that because they lighten up my day because they have a really cool pattern on them and they are one of the most common birds in ontario well as far as i know so yah even though they don't have really any Canadian color besides white they are still in my thought are the waiting symbol of Canada even though they are small they do a lot like lighten up my day and surprisingly they are really the only bird that can a small thing can make a big difference!

J'adore écouter son chant, en forêt. On sait qu'on est au chalet lorsqu'on l'entend chanter.

The song is magical.

Sparrows have always meant compassion and charity. When ever seeing a sparrow they are not only plentiful but are referenced in the bible as the smallest of animals that would never get forgotten. Canada is that kind of country, no one without exception should be forgotten. Our national bird should symbolize that spirit.

the white throated sparrow is found all over canada, and with in its song you will here ohhhh sweet Canada Canada Canada . it should be our national bird and have protection

"My Sweet, Canada, Canada"

This little bird means Canada to me. In fact it's known as "The Canada Bird." Its hauntingly beautiful call follows me where ever I go- in the trees of Halifax, in the woods of the Gaspe.
It qualifies as the national bird of Canada because it is in every province and its voice is unique.

Love to listen to this bird sing - Canada ...

The beautiful song of the White Throated Sparrow is often the first sign that winter is waning. It is such a familiar song in my part of the country that I often don't realize I am hearing it. But when I do, I am whisked back to a time in my youth of warm, humid days in the summer. I often called this bird the rainbird, until I knew what bird it was because it always sings before the summer rain.

Recently, my husband who is not native to the North, was introduced to this melodic and enchanting bird. He has renamed it the DeeDee bird - my nickname being DeeDee - because if he had not met me, he would never have heard the song of the White Throated Sparrow.

While this bird is not as well-known as the Blue Jay, or Whiskey Jack, to me it is uniquely Canadian. Hearty and strong, able to withstand the cold northern winters. For me, the perfect choice for a national bird.

The white-throtted sparrow sings the Canada song - what better reason is there to make it Canada's national bird.

NG

The White-Throated Sparrow is, like many Canadians, a subtly-coloured bird but its voice and its call make the grade for me: Oh, Canada, Canada, Canada!

The little bird that sings all summer: "I love Canada, Canada, Canada" deserves to be a candidate.

What more could you ask for. This song bird is singing Oh Canada Canada Canada Canada with its many different tempos and pitches. Truly a gem to wake up to each morning. It also shares it's lullaby to our friendly neighbours to the south during the winter months.

We have lots of white spruce, maples, birch, oaks, poplars, mountain ash, American elm and one huge weeping willow on our property. The White Throated Sparrows are here year round providing us with lovely "songs" especially so when I go out early in the mornings to fill the bird feeders an put fresh water in the bird baths.

The white throated sparrow is the haunting voice of the wild and the rejoicing voice of my rural home. It says 'Canada' as no other bird does. It is innocuous, shy but friendly and unforgettable as is Canada.

Wherever we go this tiny but resilient bird seems already to be there with a voice both sad and full of sunshine. Both welcoming and wary, this bird dwells above us, not always seen but always there.

while walking in the woods, nothing says "Canada" more distinctly than the white-throated sparrow .. literally, it sings "Oh Canada"

There is no more lovely sound than the song of the White-throated Sparrow in the spring. As it sings "Oh, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada," the long, cold winter melts away and the promise of spring and summer are there. It is a lovely little bird.

This diminutive little forest dweller's clear ascending song has always fascinated people in campspots,and on hiking trails in our northeren forests. They are known as kimiwan piyesisak [rain birds] in Plains Cree, one of the very first languages spoken in our country.

The White-throated sparrow is beautiful in appearance and has a magnificent song, as well as appearing in every segment of Canada. This is the bird for us!

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