What is a Whiskeyjack?

Canada Jay Canadian Canadian Bird Gray Jay National Bird National Geographic Whiskeyjack

Whiskeyjack is a nickname for the Canada Jay, which is a bird found in every territory and province within Canada. It's also a friendly and smart bird who chooses not to migrate in the winter, and braves the Canadian cold better than most of us!

Photo: Garth McElroy/Vireo


The name Whiskeyjack came from the Indigenous for Wisakedjak, who was a known trickster in Anishinaabe legends. Known to be quite clever and friendly, the Canada Jay is the only bird with a name rooted in Indigenous culture, and for the reasons listed above, this species was named by National Geographic as Canada's National Bird. Additionally, the name is a great reference to Windsor's history of producing fine Canadian whiskey!

Not only has the Whiskeyjack never been recorded outside of North America, the vast majority of its range is in Canada, with only a small percentage crossing into Alaska and the western mountains of the United States. The species’ preferred habitat is Canada’s boreal and mountain forests — ecozones that stretch from coast to coast and into the North, blanketing nearly two-thirds of the country.


(Map: Chris Brackley/Canadian Geographic)

They are among the world’s smartest birds, and have nearly the same body-to-brain ratio as humans! As a result, they’re not only experts at recalling the locations of numerous winter food stashes, but they’re instinctually curious and quite bold in their interactions with humans....cute bird selfie anyone!?


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