Tag Archives: Canada

Bird Symbols of Canada

Part 9 – Alberta

Provincial Bird: Great-horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)

According to the Canada Government website,

the Province of Albert adopted the Great-horned owl as its bird emblem in 1977, following a province-wide children’s vote.   This owl is an Alberta resident; and apparently its choice reflected concern about threatened wildlife, both in Alberta and worldwide. 

The Alberta Legislature has endorsed the selection of the Great-horned owl in Statute:

Emblems of Alberta Act (Revised Statutes 2000): Official bird 6.   The bird known scientifically as Bubo virginianus and commonly known as the “great horned owl” is hereby adopted as the official bird of Alberta. RSA 1980 cE-8 s6“.

The Great-horned owl is a native resident of North America, but can also be found in Central America and Southern parts of South America.  Within North America, eBird Canada says of the Great-horned Owl:“Large and widespread owl with distinctive ear tufts. Found in a variety of habitats from dense woods to prairie and deserts with at least some trees. Also, found in wooded towns and suburbs. Typically, well-camouflaged dark brown overall, but varies in color. Often engages in haunting duets, with males and females hooting back and forth. Preys upon a variety of animals, including mammals, birds and reptiles“.

Bird Symbols of Canada

Part 8 – Saskatchewan

Provincial Birds: Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanachus phasianellus) 

According to the Canadian Government website,

Saskatchewan adopted the Sharp-tailed Grouse as its Provincial bird in 1945.  I have not been able to go back that far, but I did find in the Saskatchewan Legislation database the consolidated “Provincial Emblems and Honours Act 1988-89” which was last updated in 2019.  Part II, Article 7 of that Act states:

Bird Emblem: The bird known ornithologically as Tympanachus phasianellus and called the “sharp-tailed grouse” is the bird emblem of Saskatchewan. 1995, c.29, s.4.”

The Canadian Government website suggests that the Sharp-tailed Grouse is known colloquially as a “Prairie Chicken”.

eBird Canada says about this bird:“Pale grayish-brown chickenlike bird, found in open spaces with mix of grasses and shrubs. Often on the ground or perched high in trees. Look for whitish tail with pointed tip, slight crest, wings spotted with white, and sparsely marked pale belly. In early spring, males gather at display site and dance to attract females: look for tail cocked up, wings held out, and purple patch of exposed skin on neck. Sexes alike. Most similar to prairie-chickens but note paler belly and pointed tail.

The distribution map on eBird for the Sharp-tailed Grouse indicates that it is a native resident of North East and Central Canada (but not the Eastern seaboard provinces) and the Northern, Central States of the USA.  It is also present in parts of Alaska. 

The Sharp-tailed Grouse is a bird that is hunted by man.  The online magazine “Project Upland” describes aspects of this bird:

“The is one seriously charismatic bird. If you’ve ever seen videos of sharp-tails doing their tell-tale dancing competitions, you were likely hooked immediately. They are fascinating birds to watch and to hunt. Furthermore, the open habitats they live in are equally beautiful and captivating in their own way.” 

Bird Symbols of Canada

Part 7 – Prince Edward Island

Provincial Bird: Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) 

Prince Edward Island (PEI) adopted the Blue Jay in 1977 following a province wide vote.  The General Assembly of PEI confirmed adoption of the Blue Jay in legislation, which is currently consolidated in Part One of the Provincial Emblems and Honours Act:

2. Avian emblem: The bird known scientifically as Cyanocitta cristata (L.) and popularly known as the blue jay is adopted as and shall be the avian emblem of the province. 1997,c.36,s.2.”

 Under this Act, PEI also adopted the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) as its animal; the Red Oak (Quercus rubra L.) as its tree; and the Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) as the floral emblem of the Province.

eBird describes the Blue Jay thus:“Blue above, light gray below. Black and white markings on wings and tail. Larger than a robin, smaller than a crow. Crest and long tail. Noisy and conspicuous in areas with large trees. Regularly visits feeders.

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.