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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!

Gentoo Penguin

Gentoo Penguin

The Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League were so named in the 1960s in part because of the alliteration of the name. But the team also played in an arena commonly known as "the Big Igloo" so the name seemed appropriate. The team's name doesn't reflect a particular penguin species, but to my eye, the Gentoo Penguin seems to be a close match to the hockey-stick-carrying bird in the team's logo. Photo by Christian Sanchez

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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