My (not so) secret wish is for a bird to see straight into my heart, nod "Yes, she's a good one," and follow me home to be my best friend forever, coming and going as it pleases, but fully aware of my undying love and devotion. So far...no luck. But a girl can dream.
This curious little Gray Jay, also known as The Whiskey Jack, greeted us outside of La Refuge Cabourons on the morning of Day 27. As you will read below, it is considered a good omen to be visited by a Gray Jay in the early morning! He wasn't at all afraid of us and was kind enough to stay still while I snapped a few pictures. This was our campsite the day after we left Gaspesie National Park on our way to Haute Gaspe.
1. Gray Jays live in evergreen (especially spruce) and mixed evergreen-deciduous forest across the boreal forest of the northern United States and Canada, north to the tree line, as well as in high mountain ranges of the West.
2. Canada Geographic recently selected the Gray Jay as Canada's National bird, beating out the common loon, the snowy owl, and the Canada Goose.
3. Gray Jays are important to Indigenous Peoples. The common moniker “whiskey jack” has nothing to do with the grain-based alcohols, but is rather an anglicization of the Cree Wisakedjak and similar variations used by nations in the Algonquian language family, which makes the gray jay Canada’s only bird commonly referred to by a traditional Indigenous name.
4. In some traditional Ojibwa stories, the trickster Nanabozho takes the gray jay’s form and leaves it with a playful, generous spirit. But it’s to the Cree peoples especially that Wisakedjak is a shape-shifter who frequently appears as the gray jay, a benevolent trickster, teacher and messenger of the forest. To many western First Nations, the appearance of a gray jay in the morning is a good omen, and its chattering and whistles an early warning to hunters of nearby predators. There are even Gwich’in guides in the Yukon who tell of gray jays singing from tree to tree to lead a lost and starving hunter home.
We felt so blessed that this trickster visited us! #thruhike#thruhikers#sentierinternationaldesappalaches#internationalappalachiantrail#quebec#greyjay#grayjay#whiskeyjack#trickster