Bird Symbols of Canada

Part 5 – Manitoba

Provincial Birds: Great Gray/Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa)

In 1987, under “The Coat of Arms, Emblems and Manitoba Tartan Act”, the Manitoba Legislature decided to adopt the Great Gray Owl as the Provincial bird. The exact text of the Act states: 

“5(2) The bird ornithologically known as Strix nebulosa and commonly called the “Great Gray Owl” is adopted as and is the avian emblem of Manitoba.”

Nature North says about the Great Gray Owl:

“…… A rare bird, this species has been seen more regularly in parts of Manitoba than elsewhere in Canada. It is thus fitting that on July 16, 1987, by an Act of the Manitoba Legislature, the Great Gray Owl was officially named the Provincial Bird Emblem. Elevation of the status of the Great Gray Owl from unprotected in 1962 to provincial bird emblem in 1987, is in recognition of owls and other birds of prey as a valuable and treasured part of the natural world, and worthy of protection.”

Nature North also goes on to say that the Great Gray Owl is larger than the Great Horned Owl (the Provincial bird of Alberta) and the Snowy Owl (the Provincial bird of Québec).  The males and females of the species look the same, but as is common with birds of prey, the female is larger than the male: the male owl weighs up to 1.2 kg, whereas the female weighs up to 1.8 kg.  The Great Gray Owl has bright yellow eyes and a broad round face, with marked white chin patches that are a key identifying characteristic of this bird. 

The Canada Government website states that the Great Gray Owl is the largest owl in North America, with a wingspan of over 1.3-1.5 metres.  The Great Gray Owl is a Manitoba resident all year round.

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