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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!

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

When the NBA's original Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans in 2013, they adopted the Pelicans as their name to reflect the region's culture and community. "The Pelican does that," said owner Tom Benson. "Our region has been hard hit in recent years, and the one thing that stands out is the resiliency and determination to come back, to fight and overcome. The Pelican symbolizes that." He was referring, of course, to Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil crisis. Photo by Gary Miller

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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