The Gray Jay, known to many as the “Camp Robber,” to others, aptly, “Canada Jay” or “Whiskey Jack,” is Canada’s national bird: living in every province; merrily exploring the snowy landscapes; seeming bland to the careless observer, but expressing a colourful personality and welcoming appreciation for everything colourful, strange, and out of place in the wilderness.
A noisy band of Gray Jays joined in during a party on crown land where my friends were gathering with other groups of strangers out of the goodwill of the outdoors. A few Canada Jays on another occasion, undoubtedly drawn to the shiny tinfoil wrapping our peanut butter sandwiches, joined my friend and me—even sitting on my friend’s knee—on my most memorable, serene late fall day, seemingly ushering out the rest of the wildlife with them, a resplendent fish, playful foxes and otters. This bird doesn’t only show up for the good times, though; when I was walking in the bush, not in the most serene shape, one perched next to me. That meant a great deal.
This bird is very resourceful, always looking for something to use to survive the long winter, but it’s also curiously drawn to things simply for intrinsic charm. More than any of that, though, this bird is a good friend, showing up to share in the laughter or just be there for you when you think you’re on your own.