While there remains much debate as to which bird in Canada’s national avian symbol, our provinces and territories each have assigned a provincial or territorial bird along with a myriad of other symbols. In addition to provincial symbols such as trees, flowers, and coat of arms, each province and territory has selected a species of bird it feels represents its heritage and history.
Below we will include each province and territories selection of recognized bird species and provide the reasoning behind each selection.
Our home province and the most populous province in Canada, the Common Loon is recognized as the provincial bird. In 1994 it was decided that this common sight to many lakes and rivers throughout Ontario and before that, in 1987 Canada replaced the $1 bill with a coin featuring a swimming loon which is still aptly referred to as the “loonie”.
The western province of British Columbia (BC) named the Stellar’s Jay as their provincial bird. This jay is native to Western North America and is closely related to the Blue Jay, which is abundantly found throughout the rest of the continent. Also referred to as the Long-Crested Jay, the Mountain Jay and the Pine Jay, this species is the only crested jay west of the Rocky Mountains.
The province of Alberta named one of the most majestic raptors as its provincial bird back in 1977. Following a province-wide children’s vote, the Great Horned Owl was named the official bird of Alberta and symbolizes the growing concern over threatened wildlife in Alberta and around the world.
One of Saskatchewan’s most popular game birds; the Sharp-Tailed Grouse or the Prairie Chicken was adopted as the province’s official bird in 1945.
Another owl makes the list, this time in the province of Manitoba. The Great Grey Owl was named this province’s official bird in 1987 and is the largest owl in North America. The large population of Great Grey Owls across Manitoba is believed to be the reason behind the selection of this large raptor as its provincial avian symbol.
The final owl on the list is from the province of Quebec. The Snowy Owl was selected by the National Assembly as Quebec’s official bird in 1987 and was selected as a symbol of the province’s support for wildlife protection and conservation.
The provincial federation of naturalists selected the Black-Capped Chickadee as New Brunswick’s provincial bird in 1983. These small songbirds are quite common throughout the eastern portion of Canada and are easily recognizable with their distinctive songs throughout the year.
The Osprey was adopted as the official bird of Nova Scotia by an Act of the House of Assembly in 1994. Feasting mainly on fish, the Osprey can often be sighted in flight over oceans, rivers and lakes scattered throughout the province.
Prince Edward Island (PEI)
Another jay lands on our list of provincial birds as the Blue Jay was officially adopted by the province of PEI in 1977 following a province-wide vote.
Newfoundland & Labrador
The Atlantic Puffin is the provincial bird of Newfoundland and Labrador and has been a well-known symbol of the province for many years. Over 95% of all Puffins in North America breed on the coastal regions of the province and the largest colony can be seen in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve located just south of St. John’s.
In October of 1986, the Yukon Territory adopted the Common Raven as its official bird. These intelligent birds, often referred to as crows are very common throughout the territory and research has indicated that they do in fact have the ability to communicate with other animals.
In 1990 the Northwest Territories adopted the largest falcon species on earth; the Gyrfalcon as its official bird. These sleek and fast birds can be found in almost all areas of the territory and range in colours from white to grey or brown or black, depending on their geographical location.
Another game bird takes the final spot on our list. Nunavut has adopted the Rock Ptarmigan as their provincial bird and is abundant throughout the territory and is well known for its variation of colouring, morphing from brown in the summer months and white during the cold winter months.\