Tag Archives: Provincial Birds

BIRD SYMBOLS OF CANADA

Part 12 – Yukon

Provincial Bird: Northern or Common Raven (Corvus corax)

The Canadian Government website indicates that the Yukon adopted the Northern Raven in 1985 as its Territorial Bird.   The website goes on to say:

“The Northern Raven is seen everywhere in Yukon. It is a very intelligent bird and an opportunistic feeder, feasting on everything from carrion to groceries left in the back of pick-up trucks.

The raven is the largest member of the crow family and has a body length of up to 70 centimetres.The raven is called “crow” by Yukon First Nations people and is the subject of many stories passed from generation to generation.”

There is specific legislation – the Raven Act – in which the Yukon Legislature adopted the Northern Raven as its bird: Official bird 1 The bird popularly known as the northern raven and known biologically as the common raven (Corvus corax, sub-species principalis) is adopted as the official bird of the Yukon. S.Y. 2002, c.187, s.1.”

Bird Symbols of Canada

Part 11 – Northwest Territories (NWT)

Provincial Bird: The Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus)

The Northwest Territories adopted the Gyrfalcon in 1990 as its Provincial bird.  The Territorial Emblems and Honours Act consolidates this status:

“Bird emblem 7. The bird known ornithologically as Falco rusticolus and called “gyrfalcon” is the bird emblem of the Northwest Territories.

The Northwest Legislative Assembly website goes on to explain the characteristics of the Gyrfalcon:

“The gyrfalcon is the largest and most magnificent of the falcons and breeds throughout the tundra, including all the Arctic islands. Gyrfalcons usually winter in the North and during that season can be found anywhere in the Northwest Territories. They range in color from white through shades of grey and brown to almost black. Darker birds are more common in the NWT. Gyrfalcons eat mostly ptarmigan, but also ground squirrels, seabirds, waterfowl, and arctic hares. They are expert hunters, and extremely fast and powerful fliers.

eBird Canada suggests that the Gyr Falcon is a relatively uncommon bird, even in Canada:

“Breeds on cliffs on Arctic tundra; winters in large open areas. Never common even on breeding grounds; rare everywhere in the continental U.S.

Canada Post has issued two stamps which feature the Gyrfalcon.   The first of these was in 2003, a single design stamp that was printed as part of a self-adhesive booklet of six stamps. 

BIRD SYMBOLS OF CANADA

Part 10 – Newfoundland and Labrador

Provincial Bird: Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula artica)

The website of the Executive Council of Newfoundland and Labrador indicates that the Atlantic Puffin became the Provincial bird in 1991.  The website goes on to provide an overview of the characteristics of this bird:

 “With a thick orange, yellow, and grey bill and stout body, the puffin is able to fly in the air as well as swim underwater, and its razor-sharp claws allow it to dig deep burrows into the rich soil of seabird islands. It lays a single egg at the bottom of this protective burrow. Both parents nurture until the chick is ready for life at sea in late August or early September. Ninety-five per cent of North America’s Atlantic Puffins are found in this province.”[1] The Canada Government website indicates that the largest colony of the Puffins can be found on the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, south of St John’s.  The reserve comprises four small islands, which provide a home to the Puffins, as well as other seabirds, during nesting season and beyond, for the birds to raise their young. The islands are off-limits to human visitors (tourists).  


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.”