Search for Edmonton's official bird sends city squawking

A debate over Edmonton’s official bird is ruffling feathers across the city.

Corvid controversy takes flight on CBC morning show

Magpies have a fondess for robins' eggs (Creative Commons)

Alberta has the stately great-horned owl, Newfoundland has the puffin, Ontario has the common loon.

If you can't name Canada's national bird, it's because the country doesn't have one.

Canadian Geographic magazine has launched a national contest aimed at picking a bird which could represent the True North.

But as people across the country flock to the vote, Edmonton is still lacking an avian emblem.

Corvid controversy 

Edmonton AM flew right into that void, and asked CBC listeners to weigh in on which bird would best represent the former City of Champions.

And to ensure a balanced discussion, the morning show crew asked two birds of a feather — Edmonton comedians Donovan Workun and Julian Faid — to help hatch a solution.

"I think it's obvious. We have a love-hate relationship with this bird already. It's got to be the Magpie," said Workun, who notes that the city already has the dubious distinction of being Canada's magpie capital.

Workun says the "majestic" magpie is a hard-working, industrious bird, deserving of an illustrious perch in the city's official crest.  

"They're up early. You hear them at 6 a.m. so you know they're hard at work first thing in the morning," Workun said.

"They recycle. I saw one eating a half rotten orange on my lawn yesterday … and they're hardy. They stay all year 'round, they're like a solid Edmontonian. They're a good bird."

Magpie madness 

That argument sent Faid squawking.

He argues that the black and white crows are nothing but a pest, and magpie lovers are little more than feather-headed fools.

"Our official bird needs to embody what it truly means to be an Edmontonian," Faid said.

"Is it Edmontonan to pick through the neighbour's garbage and leave it strewn on the driveway?" Faid asked.

"Does the population of Edmonton wake everyone up with incessantly loud squawks at 6 a.m. on a Sunday? Is it truly Edmontonian to swoop into someone else's home and steal their children?

"No? Try telling that to a magpie."

Faid said he believes a "strong a majestic bird" that commands the sky, like the noble pileated woodpecker, would be a better winged representative for Alberta's capital city.

"It's courteous and kind. It always knocks upon arrival which I find is wonderful," Faid said.

"And it also mimics a lot of other Edmontonians by building large, impressive homes on the outskirts of Edmonton."

"Whether it's waiting for a bridge to be completed or hoping for that pothole to be fixed or cheering for the Oilers year after year, I ask, what could be more Edmontonian than banging your head against a wall?"

What bird do you think would be best? Get crowing in the comments section below.


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