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.

14 thoughts on “National Birds – Canada

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

    Ted Cheskey

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

  10. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *