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.