Birds are popular mascots for schools, sports teams, businesses and even brands, but why? Not all birds are equally loved as mascots, and learning which birds make better mascots and why some bird species have greater popularity than others can help every birder appreciate a little more about the diversity of avifauna and how amazing birds can be.
Why Birds Make Great Mascots
Birds are elegant, swift, powerful, beautiful and strong… All desirable qualities in a mascot, but selecting a bird as a mascot goes beyond basic physical characteristics.
Mascot birds are also highly recognizable and familiar, easy for non-birders to see and appreciate, which raises the visibility of the mascot and what it represents. Bird mascots might be chosen because their plumage colors match the colors of a school's team or business logo, or the bird name might start with the same letter as the associated organization. Birds are often chosen because they are strongly associated with a region, giving a local connection and pride to the mascot. Nature centers, birding festivals and bird conservation organizations also often have avian mascots and may even have live avian ambassadors that serve as living mascots (when the birds cannot be released into the wild).
Most Popular Bird Mascots
Some types of birds are more frequently chosen as mascots than others, and all types of raptors – strong, powerful apex predators – are the most common bird mascots. While some mascots may be relatively generic types of raptors such as eagles, falcons, owls or hawks, others are exact species such as golden eagles, ospreys or red-tailed hawks.
Still other mascots pay tribute to raptors in even more general ways with stylized names such as skyhawks, river hawks or war hawks, all of which promote the bird mascot and emphasize desirable characteristics of the icon as it relates to the organization adopting the mascot.
Though birds of prey may be the most popular bird mascots, they are far from the only feathered symbols used by schools, teams and businesses.
Other bird mascots include:
- Blue Jays
Birds That Should Be Mascots
While it is possible that any bird might be a mascot somewhere, some types of birds do not get the widespread recognition they deserve. Amazing birds that deserve more prominent mascot status include…
- Hummingbirds: These tiny flying jewels are nearly universally loved, and despite their small size, they have mighty attitudes and abilities that would be well suited to any mascot. Their speed and beauty are other great attributes any mascot could appreciate.
- Kingfishers: These are not only attractive birds, but the deadly precision of their plunge dive hunting is a much-admired trait that would work well for any competitive mascot, particularly for any mascot-seeking group near waterway habitats.
- Magpies: These corvids are widely acknowledged as some of the most intelligent birds in the world, and they can be fiercely defensive of their territory. Furthermore, the elegant plumage and distinctive tails of magpies are great features to highlight with a mascot.
- Cassowaries: These humongous birds are among the most powerful birds on the planet and while they are not naturally aggressive, they have a well-documented defensive capability and strong kicking ability – ideal to be a mascot for many types of sport teams.
- Albatrosses: These elegant seabirds have spectacular endurance and hold a number of bird records, making them a great mascot option for any team, business or school that also wants to hold noteworthy records.
- Endangered Birds: Any bird species that is classified as endangered deserves hefty recognition as a mascot, recognition that could raise awareness about the birds' plight and what conservation efforts are critical to improve its survival and save the mascot.
Every bird, no matter what its size, plumage, range or other characteristics, has admirable traits that could bring greatness to any team, school, business or other organization seeking a mascot, and every bird mascot that exists helps increase public knowledge of birds and all their fine qualities. Support your favorite bird mascot today!
Photo – Red-Tailed Hawk © Rodney Campbell