CWHC Rebranded Day 1: Introduction to the Gray Jay

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Photo courtesy of Hamilton Greenwood

The Gray Jay is a member of the Corvidae family (crows and jays) found across most of Canada. Known as the Whiskey Jack to some (from the Algonquian word Wisakedjak and other variations), and formerly as the Canada Jay, this resilient bird is a familiar visitor to campsites and traplines in the boreal forest. Their boldness and skill in collecting food has earned them several nicknames such as “camp robber” and “moose bird” and it is not uncommon to see a daring individual hopping onto a human hand or knee to retrieve a snack. Their diet consists of anything they can find, including berries, insects, and carrion. They spend most of the summer hoarding food for the winter, during which they remain as permanent residents throughout their range, including the northernmost reaches of the boreal forest. Gray Jays lay their eggs in March; an amazing feat considering the frigid temperatures that characterize most of their range at this time of year! This hardiness was one of the qualities that made the Gray Jay a compelling choice to represent our organization since its inception as the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre in 1992.

In 2013 we embarked upon a goal of making the organization and the issues it addresses better known to Canada and the world. Central to this effort has been the development of a CWHC “brand”, that would communicate what the CWHC stands for, what we value, and what helps guide the organization. This process has included changing our name to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, as well as the establishment of value statements and key messaging, social media engagement, a new website and the redevelopment of our graphic design culminating in our adoption of a new logo.

After an extensive design and review process the CWHC chose to retain the Gray Jay as best representing the organization while maintaining our past connection with this symbol. The Gray Jay is a ubiquitous species across Canada being found in all provinces and territories, which represents the national scope of the CWHC. The Gray Jay is uniquely a Canadian bird: hardy, but not flashy. By choosing such a species as representing the values of the organization it shows that the CWHC’s focus extends to a range of species large and small, and wildlife health issues both prominent and lesser known.

Read more about the Gray Jay in Hinterland Who’s Who:

The Gray Jay has also been nominated in Canadian Geographic’s campaign to designate an official bird of Canada! Read the many reasons why, and vote for the Gray Jay here:

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