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Pro sports teams named for birds

This post, originally published on Major League Baseball’s Opening Day 2019, features a fun gallery of photos of the birds commemorated by North American professional sports teams. It would be a pretty brief gallery if we stuck to baseball, since only three MLB teams qualify for this list. So we’re also recognizing teams from the NFL, NBA, and NHL — 11 species in all that inspired the names of 12 teams. The photos are from our Reader Galleries

Of course, several minor-league baseball teams and a number of college sports programs are named for birds as well. If you’d like to see more galleries like this, let us know!

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

This is the only bird on the list where the species name and the team name are the same. The bird was named after George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, who helped found Maryland. The city of Baltimore is named for him as well. It is said that the male oriole's colors are similar to those on Lord Baltimore's coat-of-arms.

Baseball's Baltimore Orioles had been the St. Louis Browns until 1953, but when the team was moved to Baltimore, the new owners adopted the Orioles name in honor of Maryland's state bird. Before the current team's arrival in Baltimore, the city had been home to other major- and minor-league franchises named for the black and orange bird. One of the first teams to be known as the Baltimore Orioles left the city in 1903 for New York, where they eventually became the Yankees. Photo by Michael Rossacci

Related: The home of the Milwaukee Bucks is the world’s first bird-friendly arena

Originally Published

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Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall is the editor of BirdWatching magazine and You can reach him at

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