By popular vote, the people of Calgary recently selected the black-capped chickadee as their official city bird. The City of Calgary, along with Nature Canada and Bird Friendly Calgary, organized the vote, which received over 36,000 responses. Find out what other places in Canada have symbolic birds!
Official city birds
Calgary, Alta. The black-capped chickadee
The black-capped chickadee was named Calgary’s official city bird just this past May. These cozy little birds can fluff out their feathers for insulation to keep themselves warm in the winter. They were also proposed as a choice for Canada’s official bird by Canadian Geographic back in 2015.
Vancouver, B.C. Anna’s hummingbird
Anna’s hummingbird has been the official city bird of Vancouver since 2017. The small hummingbird has iridescent green feathers and a pink throat. In recognizing the bird as an official city symbol, the city of Vancouver hopes to build awareness of birds and their importance to the ecosystem.
London, Ont. The Northern cardinal
Chosen as London’s official city bird last summer, the Northern cardinal stands out all year long with its bright red feathers. According to Bird Friendly City London, London is the “Cardinal Capital of Canada.” Did you know that the song of female Northern cardinals is often more complex than the males’?
Hamilton, Ont. The peregrine falcon (unofficially)
The peregrine falcon was unofficially voted to be Hamilton’s city bird in an initiative by Bird Friendly Hamilton Burlington this past March. When hunting prey, peregrines can fly 300 km/h, and will catch smaller birds and bats in mid-air. The birds are frequent residents of the Hamilton area, so keep your eye out next time you’re in the city.
Burlington, Ont. The trumpeter swan (unofficially)
Also part of the same initiative by Bird Friendly Hamilton Burlington, the trumpeter swan was recently declared the unofficial city bird of Burlington. Trumpeters are the world’s largest species of swan, and can be identified by their characteristic all-black bills.
Official provincial birds
Newfoundland and Labrador The Atlantic puffin
Did you know that 95 percent of puffins in North America breed in the coastal areas of Newfoundland and Labrador? The Atlantic puffin is an iconic symbol of the province, and its distinct colouring makes it an easily recognizable species.
Nova Scotia The osprey
The official bird of Nova Scotia since 1994, ospreys are fierce predators in the bird world, and live on every continent except for Antarctica. Their talons are specifically adapted for hunting fish, which is their main food source.
Prince Edward Island The blue jay
The blue jay was voted in as the official bird of P.E.I. in 1977. Though recognizable by their vibrant blue plumage, their call is harder to identify—blue jays can mimic the calls of other birds such as osprey and hawks.
New Brunswick The black-capped chickadee
What do New Brunswick and Calgary have in common? They both chose the black-capped chickadee as their official bird! However, New Brunswick beat Calgarians to it by about forty years, adopting the bird as an official symbol of the province in 1983.
Quebec The snowy owl
Since 1987, the snowy owl has been the official provincial bird of Quebec. While most owls are nocturnal, the snowy owl is active both day and night. The bird is found throughout most areas of Canada but spends winters far north, and feeds primarily on small rodents called lemmings.
Ontario The common loon
The common loon was adopted as an official symbol of Ontario in 1994. Loons are a favourite species amongst cottagers, and lake life wouldn’t be quite the same without their plaintive calls. However, a 40-year wildlife survey has recently shown that population numbers of the common loon in Canada may be at risk.
Manitoba The great gray owl
Manitoba’s provincial bird since 1987, the great gray owl is one of the largest owl species in North America—it has a four-foot wingspan! These owls can hunt their prey just by sitting and listening, and use sound to locate meals before swooping in for the kill.
Saskatchewan The sharp-tailed grouse
The sharp-tailed grouse, also known as the prairie chicken, became the official bird of Saskatchewan in 1945. Commonly found in prairies and grasslands, these grouse are popular game birds in the province.
Alberta The great horned owl
In 1977, a children’s vote decided that the great horned owl would be the provincial bird of Alberta. These large birds will go after just about any kind of prey, including skunks and even blue herons. They don’t actually have horns; they get their names from the feather clusters that stick up on their heads, which may be for camouflage or visual communication.
British Columbia The Steller’s jay
The Steller’s jay became British Columbia’s official bird by popular vote in 1987. These beautiful songbirds have deep, cobalt blue feathers on their bodies and wings, and charcoal-coloured heads with feathers that look like they’re styled in a mohawk.
Yukon The raven
The territory’s official bird since 1985, the raven is found throughout the Yukon. They are sometimes confused with crows, but you can distinguish them by their size (ravens are larger). Ravens are social and intelligent birds, and hold great significance to many Indigenous communities in the Yukon.
Northwest Territories The gyrfalcon
The gyrfalcon was named official bird of the Northwest Territories in 1990, and is the largest of the falcons. While they exist in a variety of shades from white to dark grey, gyrfalcons found in the Northwest Territories are commonly on the darker end of the spectrum.
Nunavut The rock ptarmigan
Nunavut’s territorial bird, the rock ptarmigan, is one of three species of ptarmigan in North America. Rock ptarmigans stay in Nunavut year-round, and their feathered legs and feet help protect them from the snowy conditions.
Does Canada have an official national bird?
Canada (almost!) The gray jay
So, does Canada have an official national bird? Not quite. Back in 2015, there was a strong campaign run by Canadian Geographic gunning for the gray jay, also called the whiskey jack or the Canada jay, to be declared Canada’s national bird. However, the bird was never officially adopted as a national symbol, and Canada still does not currently have an official bird that represents the country.