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National Birds – Canada

Canada’s [unofficial] national bird, the Common Loon, is an enchanting bird, a symbol of the country’s rugged wilderness. Common Loons are stunning in their breeding plumage and a joy to watch if you can get close enough! Update: As our readers have pointed out, Canada doesn’t actually have a national bird but the Common Loon would be a good choice.

The ghostly sound of the Common Loon is frequently heard in movies, though sometimes a bit out of place. Their haunting sound is inspiration for music, Loon-calling contests and festivals, and both Minnesota and Ontario claim the Common Loon as theirs.

Common Loon

The Royal Canadian Mint introduced a beautiful new one-dollar coin in 1987 with the Common Loon on it, the “loonie”. Canada made a good choice with the Common Loon as their national bird.

Photo by

They are beautiful in winter plumage as well. Photo by Mike Baird

Read A Loon Story for a heartwarming rescue of this great species.


  1. January 17, 2008    

    You know, I don’t think I ever saw a loon while I was in Canada. Beautiful pix here & the loon story was wonderful. Thank you for restoring some more of my faith in humanity today!

  2. January 19, 2008    

    One of the things that I always look forward to when I head north for my spring fishing vacation is being able to hear the call of the loons.-It’s amazing how much their plumage changes.-

  3. The Birdfreak Team The Birdfreak Team
    January 21, 2008    

    Lana – thank you; we’ve only been to Canada twice but didn’t find any loons either (although, we weren’t really looking 🙂

    Larry – the call of the loon is truly one of those events you have to experience to understand fully!!

  4. February 1, 2008    

    Birdfreak, what a great webpage! I just found it through the Brownstone Birding Blog! I love loons! I think it’s great that you are trying to involve kids in birding. We need the next generation to fall in love with them so they will care about their habitats and their future. Bravo! I will add your link to my Blog.

  5. Ted Cheskey Ted Cheskey
    August 8, 2009    

    Canada does not have an official national bird. The Common Loon would be a good choice though:)

    Ted Cheskey

  6. The Birdfreak Team The Birdfreak Team
    August 8, 2009    

    Ted – Thanks for the info! I realized this quite awhile after writing this post. I don’t remember where I had read that but it recently became a debate on a lot of birding forums. I guess only the provinces have official birds. Canada really should adopt one 🙂

  7. Don Don
    September 17, 2009    

    I have seen the common loon many many time and I can honestly say I never tire of the haunting call it makes when I am fishing or camping by our traditional family lake camping spot. I regret some of you have never seen one, they are very graceful in water … however they are very clumsy looking on land (wobble wobble) lol a true water foul. keep looking though. there is many to see and hear 😉

  8. Don Don
    September 17, 2009    

    BTW, I think Canada should adopt this awesome bird as it’s national bird. Strange that Canada has not done so already!? who knows … eh? lol

  9. The Birdfreak Team The Birdfreak Team
    September 18, 2009    

    Don – yes, loons are too awesome not to the a national bird… their sound is one of the top sounds in nature.

  10. Dale Clyde Dale Clyde
    April 28, 2010    

    Canada does not have an officially sanctioned national bird. Neither the Common Loon, Canada Goose nor any other bird is officially a national animal/bird. Only the Beaver and Canadian Horse have official status as national animals in Canada.

  11. Marie Marie
    May 7, 2010    

    Truly. The loon should be Canada’s national bird above all others. The loon is seen on all lakes across the whole country, it’s eerie call is one I love to hear and many love to imitate, lol. I always look forward to a good day of fishing on one of many local lakes and seeing / hearing the loons. I have seen them in all provinces I’ve visited and love loon art as well. Let’s all go to P.O.V.loon for National and vote vote vote.

  12. B-Man B-Man
    May 19, 2010    

    Personally, I think that the Common Loon, the Canada Goose and even the Mallard are all horrible choices. Why, you ask? These birds do not live through the harsh Canadian winters. For that, I think all birds that migrate out of Canada for winter/summer should be excluded. There has been talk of choosing the red-tailed hawk or the raven. the raven would be nice because it’s a major Haida peace symbol, but the downside is, it eats dead things. And the red-tailed hawk kills things. That’s not setting a very good Canada example. The snowy owl would be nice, but it’s already chosen for a provincial bird. Personally, I think we should go with the Canada Jay, a.k.a. the Whiskey Jack. As we can pick the Snowy owl, that must be the next best thing. In my opinion, anways.

  13. The Birdfreak Team The Birdfreak Team
    May 20, 2010    

    B-Man: I like the idea of Canada (Gray) Jay . . . what about Evening or Pine Grosbeaks? They have more color and maybe more “marketability”. Or Boreal Chickadee would be good too since it is almost only found in Canada (where Gray Jays come down south more). Boreal Owl would be cool but some people dislike owls. But representing the Boreal Forest would be good for conservation.

  14. George Fournier George Fournier
    September 7, 2011    

    The national bird of Canada should be the politicians in Ottawa. Those quacks have done more to make our economy dive faster than the loon. Americans have the Eagle for their national bird; a bird that soars. Canadians want a loon as their national bird; a bird that dives? Go figure.

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