Re: Arthur Black’s column in the Nov. 29 edition of The NEWS.
I take issue with Arthur Black in his denigration of the gray jay. One of my favourite birds, it portrays the ideal Canadian character completely. It is humble and retiring, modest, intelligent, friendly to a degree, and does not squabble with its fellow creatures.
Anyone hiking the North Shore on the Lower Mainland, or around the lakes on Mount Washington, for example, has only to stop for a snack and the whiskeyjacks will be there too, waiting for their share of the feast. Hold out your hand with a few raw nuts, cranberries, or other wholesome offerings, and they will descend in numbers. They share, two or more may perch on your hand at any one time, with more waiting nearby to take their turn. They are not stand-offish, but they are not pushy either. They always say ‘thank you’ every time they fly away with what is offered, soon coming back for more. They befriended loggers out in the woods, far from civilization – why else did they get to be called camp robbers?
Wouldn’t we wish that all Canadians were as civil as the low-key bird in the mountains with no garish plumage like the prissy peacocks or magnificent magpies, is not loud and cackling like the Canada goose, but makes its quiet presence felt as it flies in to greet you.
Let’s vote for this bird that we should all admire for its characteristics, to which all Canadians should aspire… It is certainly not a ‘grim grey/gray story’ as Black suggests, and much as I enjoy his columns, right now to him I would say “take a hike” to the sub-alpine area of any mountain near you — and enjoy the company of that denizen of the boreal forest. They make you laugh, they enjoy your company as much as you enjoy theirs. Isn’t that why we should all vote for this modest little bird that is truly Canadian?