Canada’s new offical bird has a bit of heritage; “whiskey-jack”, was taken from Wiskedjak, Wisagatcak, Wisekejack, or other variations of a word used in the Algonquian family of aboriginal languages of eastern Canada to designate a mischievous, transforming spirit who liked to play tricks on people.
A trickster eh.
The Gray Jay has a reputation; a fearless and venturesome behaviour which earned it many colloquial names such as “meat-bird” and “camp-robber”.
This I can personally attest to, having had the little robber more than once brazenly walk up to my campstove and grab a piece of well-done bacon without even a thank you chirp. While I was right there cooking the bacon.
No, I didn’t shoo it away. I was impressed with his/her style. Nothing shy about that bird.
Hinterland Who’s Who continues;
The Gray Jay Perisoreus canadensis is only slightly smaller than a Blue Jay and, silhouetted against the sky, the two birds are surprisingly similar, although the Gray Jay is a somewhat slower and weaker flier than its southern relative. Close up, the Gray Jay can hardly be confused with any other bird. Its back and tail are a medium gray and the underparts a slightly lighter shade, but the head has a quite striking and unique pattern of black and white. The short, black bill, the large dark eyes, and the thick, fluffy plumage, help give the Gray Jay a soft, rounded appearance that most people find highly appealing. For the Gray Jay, of course, the thick plumage is what keeps it warm on long winter nights or in cold snaps when the temperature may be 40 below zero for days at a time.
Juvenile Gray Jays just out of the nest are very different from the adults, being a uniform, sooty gray colour all over their bodies. Young and old are so distinct, in fact, that they were at first thought to be different species. Juveniles begin their first moult in July, however, and by the end of August they essentially look just like the adults.