Thank you for considering the ruffed grouse as a candidate in the voting process for Canada’s National Bird.
Why the ruffed grouse?
The ruffed grouse is found in all Canadian provinces, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. The only place it is absent is Nunavut. This is truly a Canadian bird, built for the Great White North. They have small growths resembling the teeth of a comb (called pectinations) growing from the sides of their toes, which act as snowshoes in deeper snowfall, and they grow additional feathers down their beaks that ensure they are breathing warmed, filtered air. They like transitional habitat but are very adaptable, found in types of mixed forest across the country.
Throughout Canada’s history both Natives and pioneers depended on this grouse for food. It remains an important food source in northern parts of the country, and grouse hunting is a time honoured tradition that has introduced many young folk to hunting.
We feel that the ruffed grouse (Bonsa umbellus) should be the foremost candidate for Canadian national bird. No other Canadian Bird can boast such a wide population distribution, and it is truly a symbol of what is wild and free in our great country.
It would be remiss not to point out the shortcomings of some of the other candidates for this most prestigious appointment as the Canadian National Bird.
One of the most obvious deficiencies in many of the proposed species is that they are not “Canadian” birds at all, but rather just summer visitors — much like American tourists. Included in this group are the common loon and the Canada goose, the latter of which has become a nuisance bird in our parks and cities.
In the case of the other grouse species proposed for National Bird, the sharp-tailed grouse and the rock ptarmigan are by-in-large regional birds (similar to the snowy owl), and therefore could not be considered as truly representing the nation.
In the case of the spruce grouse, we would take exception to its reported range of distribution; in fact, in many parts of the country it is exceedingly rare.
We are of the opinion that the bird chosen as Canada’s National Bird should not already be an official provincial or territorial bird but should be a unique symbol of our great country. I give you the Ruffed Grouse.
President / CEO
The Ruffed Grouse Society of Canada, rgs.ca