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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!

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Toronto was awarded a baseball franchise in 1977, and the name Blue Jays was selected after a name-the-team contest. A panel chose the bird's name from the top 10 entries because: "The Blue Jay is a North American bird, bright blue in color, with white undercovering and a black neck ring. It is strong, aggressive and inquisitive. It dares to take on all comers, yet it is down-to-earth, gutsy and good-looking." We're not sure what it means that the bird is "down-to-earth," but we're not going to argue. (Toronto's NBA team, the Raptors, is not inspired by birds but is named for the dinosaurs of "Jurassic Park.") Photo by Michael Travis

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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