Friday, August 25, 2006


Bird Mascots

Growing up, my high school's mascot was a seagull. (I've since learned that this is a vague and inappropriate term.) It suited our school's location on the northeast coast, but rival schools laughed and called us the "trashpickers" instead. In my adolescent insecurity, I'm sure I laughed along with them. A bird doesn't seem like much of an enemy combatant when stacked against the Trojans, bears or Titans. Then again, my favorite sports team, the Red Sox, don't have the most powerful icon - a pair of red booties? - but it doesn't stop them from making a run for first each year. Nor does it discourage the legion of fans that call themselves Red Sox Nation. The faithful remain every season (and off-season).

When I went to college, our school mascot was again a bird, although a more stately one - the eagle. The ultimate American avian symbol. We see our own values and goals in that beautiful bird, freedom, intellect and strength. But could an eagle beat the Gators? or the Devils?

Why, when there are so many ferocious animals out there, do some schools and companies take on birds as their mascots. Pennsylvania seems to have a real obsession with birds. They have the Philadelphia Eagles football, Philadelphia Flyers basketball, and the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team has some strange dancing green bird mascot (think of a green Big Bird with a huge nose). In other areas, there's the Baltimore Orioles, the Doyle Owl of Reed College, Hokie Bird of Virginia Tech, the Mighty Ducks (how mighty can ducks be?) and many, many more. The U.S. Air Force's mascot is a bird (for obvious reasons).

It seems that most people are drawn to the unique ability of birds to fly. To soar over the competition and any threat with more capability than any human athlete could ever aspire to (Michael Jordan be damned). Their impeccable eyesight and uncanny observation abilities also place high on our list of envious attributes.

Although a bird might not win in fist - er, wing - fight, they still capture our awe and respect.

Birds are beautiful animals!
Birds certianly are not the decendents of dinasours like some idiots claim
I watched a pair of WESTERN KINGBIRDS raise their four young is a nest on a utility pole this summer
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