Why the magpie?


They live in climates that lesser birds — less imaginative birds — would ignore. Magpies are urban birds: noisy, incomprehensible. They are not subservient, like pigeons and rock doves. Magpies are intelligent. They work together in mysterious ways. 

Magpies are hot lovers.

We think they’re ugly, or perhaps vulgar, because they’ll eat a dead squirrel right in front of everybody. Maybe that’s just a quiet sort of confidence.  Oh, you don’t eat dead squirrels? I do. They’re delicious.

When people come here from far away and see a magpie for the first time they always say the same thing: “It’s so beautiful. Those colours, those eyes. What sort of bird is that?”


11 thoughts on “Why the magpie?

  1. Pingback: Magpies, the Downtown Arena and cycling | Edmonton Blog Watch | The Unknown Studio

  2. I love this, Todd. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with magpies. They’re aggressive. They’re smart. They’re noisy. They’re beautiful. I’ve actually been toying with the idea of getting one tattooed on my back. Your post actually makes me lean a little more toward the idea of going for it.

  3. I have magpies tattooed on my upper arms, one with a view of Edmonton as the background and the other with the Alberta boreal forest. And people ask me, “why magpies?” and I explain much as you jsut did.

  4. I love the Magpies. I am definitely one of the people from far away who wanted to know about that beautiful bird hopping around my new neighborhood. Cheers!

  5. When trying to generate names for the new streets in Big Lake area in Edmonton, there was a lot of debate about the use of Magpie. Some found it to be too negative of a connotation, but I quite like the way you put it. I also find it to be a very beautiful bird, and in that way very representative of our city.

  6. To be contrarian it is also not a bad symbol (maybe a better one) for Calgary. That said many common issues between our cities. Quite enjoy the blog thus far.

  7. I never thought about how other people see magpies. It’s much like how Edmontonians think there’s “nothing to do in our city” until a visitor comes to town and we show them all the amazing things happening around town. Well done. You’ve certainly captured the essence of our city.

  8. My cool friend Crystal Tracy sews adorable little girls’ dresses out of vintage fabrics with magpies on them. Bison too; I know Mr. Magpie likes bison too. She has an etsy store and has tables at markets around town. Mr. Magpie, I am not sure how old your girls are but Crystal makes custom sizes. This is pure Edmonton. http://www.etsy.com/shop/sweetjaneclothing

  9. Pingback: Edmonton on Q « magpietown

  10. I was a magpie hater until two years ago when I came out of my garage to find a very small magpie standing on the lawn squawking up a storm. The poor little guy must have fallen out of a tree. His weight to wingspan ratio made it less likely that he could fly than KFC’s infamous Doubledown sandwich so that became his nickname. There was a pile of wood from an old fence stacked up in a corner of the lawn. I added a ramp so he could get off the ground and hide from the neighbourhood cats. Every day after work I would check – hopefully – to see if he was OK. After a couple of weeks he was able to glide a bit after jumping from his refuge. Then he managed to fly a bit. Finally he was airborn along with his magpie family, which visited regularly with food. Doubledown was OK. As it happens, this coincided with an especially depressing time at work. Doubledown’s survival was a huge relief. Now I see a little bit of Doubledown in every magpie. He was just trying to make it in what can be a tough and scary world. Just like I was at the time. Thanks, Todd, for giving me a place to tell this story.

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