What Birds Are NFL Teams Named After?

What Birds Are NFL Teams Named After?

Alisa Opar
Published: 01/16/2011

I’ve been watching birds rush, tackle, and pass all weekend. Well, NFL players whose teams bear the name of a bird. Baltimore Ravens. Atlanta Falcons. Today the Seattle Seahawks face the Chicago Bears. The football frenzy has got me wondering what species these avian ambassadors might be.
 

Photo: US FWS
The Baltimore Ravens, who suffered a close loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday, is probably the common raven. Don’t be fooled by the “common”—ravens are corvids and among the smartest birds.
 

Photo: US FWS
As for the Seattle Seahawks, I’m guessing it’s an osprey. This fish-eating bird is one of the largest birds of prey in North America, and is found on every continent except Antarctica.  
 

Photo: US FWS
Arizona Cardinals: northern cardinal. (A much closer match than the Angry Bird that resembles a cardinal.) These eye-catching birds don’t migrate, so their bright-red plumage stands out against snow-covered landscapes in the winter. In the spring, it’s not unusual to spot a cardinal fiercely attacking its reflection in a window or car mirror—they’re protecting their territory from intruders. 
 

Photo: US FWS
Philadelphia Eagles: bald eagle. Our national emblem, the bald eagle came close to extinction in the lower 48 states because of DDT poisoning. They’ve bounced back, and were taken off the endangered species list in 2007. 
 


Photo: US FWS

But what about the Atlanta Falcons? Perhaps a Peregrine falcon or merlin? They both winter in Georgia. American kestrel (above) might be a better guess, given that it lives in Georgia year-round and has reddish-orange markings. (The Falcons were trounced Green Bay Packers yesterday…which made me wonder what, exactly, is a Packer? According to Wikipedia, team founder Curly Lambeau received funds for the uniforms from his employer—the Indian Packing Company—on the condition that the team be named for its sponsor. Hence the nickname.)
 
Finally, for those bird lovers who also love football, it turns out there’s a gift that marries those two passions: NFL-themed bird feeders. Birdseed not included.