Canadians love their birds. The National Bird Project hosted The Great Canadian National Bird Debate Monday night at the Canadian Museum of Nature in an attempt to answer one question; What should our national bird be?
In partnership with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Canadian Geographic will recommend a national bird to the federal government in hopes to have one named by Canadas’s 150th anniversary. Canadian Geographic began the process with an online poll that received over 50 000 votes and narrowed the competition down to five finalists.
The black-capped chickadee, Canada goose, gray jay also known as whiskey jack, snowy owl and common loon were represented by George Elliott Clarke, Mark Graham, David Bird, Alex MacDonald and Steven Price. The event brought together 200 people, was broadcast to thousands online and trended number one on Twitter in Canada for the duration of the debate.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna raised the issue that affects us all: climate change. According to McKenna there are 72 species of bird at risk in Canada and it is our responsibility to work together and protect them.
“Birds play a critical role in our ecosystems. They eat insects, they dispense seeds, they pollinate plants, and they are also a critical indicator of a healthy environment.” she said in her opening remarks.
The Canada goose is a species that has been raised from levels of extinction due to the efforts of Canadians. For Graham, this is an indicator that the goose would best serve as our national bird because it demonstrates the good things that happen when Canadians come persevere.
The Americans national bird, the bald eagle has also faced threats of extinction. If it wasn’t for the efforts of the U.S. government, it would be an extinct species. Panellists here prefer a bird that represents Canadians through its attributes. Bird prefers the gray jay because it is a great merger with climate change.
The bird population in Canada is a great indicator of whether or not Canadians are doing their part in protecting the environment. Representing the loon, Price says “They’ll attract more Canadians to love and conserve the lakes and the coastlines we need to preserve. Loons call us to keep nature’s cleanup on course.”
MacDonald said, the snowy owl is the only bird that serves as a symbol of the North and represents its peoples with fierceness.
The winner is still anybody’s bet, but in an audience poll the gray jay was the clear winner.
The recommendation will be announced on Nov. 16, 2016 at the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s College of Fellows Annual Dinner in Ottawa.