After a two year long search, the Royal Canadian Geographic Society has selected the gray jay, otherwise known as a whiskey jack, as its new national bird.
The whiskey jack’s common name has nothing to do with whiskey or any kind of alcohol, but rather, it stems from the Cree and Algonquin languages. They called the bird the “wisakedjak,” after its cunning, friendly nature.
Among the other birds considered were the common loon, the snowy owl, and the black-capped chickadee. All in all, the contest grabbed the attention of almost 50,000 online voters.
Once the voters were tallied, the gray jay came in third place behind the snowy owl and the loon. In the end, the whiskey jack was selected after a public debate.
The Canadian government has not yet committed to naming the gray jay its national bird, or even naming a national bird at all, but the Canadian Geographic Society thinks that it’s a smart move for the country’s 150th birthday coming up next year.
David Bird, a professor from Montreal’s McGill University, calls it “The perfect bird for Canada.”
“They’re the smartest birds on the planet,” said Professor Bird in an interview. “That’s actually been shown scientifically.”
The gray jay makes it an ideal bird because it never migrates outside of Canada. The bird winters in the boreal forests and has been known to lay eggs in remarkably cool temperatures.
The bird is also seen as reflecting the overall temperament of the Canadian people.
“These birds will also come down to your hand, without being prodded or trained in any way, because they’re very friendly,” said Professor Bird.
“So now you’ve got friendly, hardy and intelligent — that, to me, epitomizes the average Canadian.”
The gray Jay can be found in the boreal forests in every province in the country.