A swan song for Magpies of Edmonton photography project

For the past two years, the Magpies of Edmonton twitter account has showcased the great "Parrots of Alberta" in all their garbage-eating, dive-bombing glory. But the man behind the account, Craig Stadnyk, has moved to Ontario, and the beloved account is no more.

Craig Stadnyk has a thing for these 'Parrots of Alberta'

Despite their less than stellar reputation, magpies are much-loved in Edmonton, says Craig Stadnyk. (Craig Stadnyk)

It's a sad swan song for an Edmonton campaign showcasing the city's unofficial bird.

Well, maybe less of a swan song and more of a lonely "ka-kaw."

For the past two years, the Magpies of Edmonton Twitter account has showcased the great "Parrots of Alberta" in all their garbage-eating, dive-bombing glory. 

But the man behind the account, Craig Stadnyk, has moved to Ontario, where these hardy birds are less populous.

After two years of faithful photo-posting, the Magpies of Edmonton account was officially shut down last week.

'I thought they were great'

From guarding a fresh roadkill in a parking lot to raiding garbage cans, the social media account is a study of this mischievous bird — one which is so ubiquitous in Edmonton, it's earned the dubious distinction of being the city's feathered mascot.

For many Albertans, magpies are noisy pests known for their unwanted early morning wake-up calls and their tendency to stalk and bully pets.

But for Stadnyk, magpies have always been handsome creatures. Of all the urban birds in Edmonton, he argues, magpies are the most photogenic.

"I'm from the East Coast and we don't have any back there. So when I moved to Edmonton, I was quite surprised to see them around," Stadnyk said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"They've got such a unique tail, such bright colours on them. And just how they act, they're very inquisitive, they hop around, they'll take the stairs instead of flying off the top one.

"I thought they were great."

The magpie project was inspired by Faces of Edmonton, another local photography project showcasing the city's human inhabitants.

Stadnyk came up with the idea while out for dinner with friends.

"We were making a few jokes and I said, 'Why don't we have one of these for magpies?'

"When you're out, you see just as many magpies as you do people. I think Edmonton should have one of these to showcase all the great birds that are around the city."

Magpie mania

Edmonton is officially Canada's magpie capital.

According to the latest count by amateur ornithologists, there have never been more of magpies in Edmonton than there are right now.

During the last count in December 2015, Bird Studies Canada found 2,736 magpies, the highest number ever recorded.

Even though Stadnyk is leaving Alberta, he says he will always have a soft spot for the beleaguered bird.

"I've had a change of jobs and I've moved out to Ottawa so I've had to leave the city behind. I've run out of magpie pictures," said Stadnyk.

"The last one I saw was about six hours west of Thunder Bay, and I'm going to remember that one." 

Listen to Edmonton AM with host Mark Connolly, weekday mornings at CBC Radio One, 93.9 FM in Edmonton. Follow the morning crew on Twitter @EdmAMCBC.