Which Bird Species Are Popular as Mascots?

Red-Tailed Hawk

Rodney Campbell/Flickr/CC by 2.0

Birds are popular mascots for schools, sports teams, businesses, events, 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. They can be formidable hunters, soar above obstacles, make astonishing migrations, and survive all types of natural and man-made threats. These are all desirable qualities in a representative, 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 bird 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, which are strong, powerful 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 sky hawks, 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:

  • Blackbirds
  • Blue Jays
  • Cardinals
  • Ducks
  • Gamecocks
  • Gulls
  • Herons
  • Larks
  • Nighthawks
  • Orioles
  • Peacocks
  • Pelicans
  • Penguins
  • Ravens
  • Roadrunners
  • Swans

Birds That Should Be Mascots

While 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. While they are not naturally aggressive, cassowaries have a well-documented defensive capability and strong kicking ability, ideal to be a mascot for many types of sports teams.
  • Albatrosses: These elegant seabirds have spectacular endurance and hold several bird records such as longest flights and broadest wingspans, making them a great mascot 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. That recognition 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. Furthermore, every bird mascot that exists helps increase public knowledge of birds and all their fine qualities. Support your favorite bird mascot today!