As you may know, the exclusive club of sports teams named after birds got an unexpected new member this year, the New Orleans Pelicans of the NBA. The oft-moved team had been called the Hornets (the only member of the club of teams named after insects!), but Charlotte, NC wanted that name back (it had been the original name of their NBA team, now called the Bobcats [sorry, mammalogists]), so New Orleans decided to change.
Surprise of surprises, they didn't go with something stupid, they went with Pelicans.
I've covered this ground before, discussing how pleased I am with choosing such a not-really-tough nickname and mascot. But I think it's more than that. I think the birding community should adopt the New Orleans Pelicans as our official sports team.
What does it mean to be the official sports team of birders? I don't know, really, I'm doing this off the top of my head, but I don't think it's much different than any city's fanbase liking their team. It's a rallying point, a vehicle for unification. A method for the various subspecies of birder - listers, feeder-watchers, gull-dorks, banders, chasers, old cranks, bread-throwers, migratiphiles, radar-watchers, patch-listers, night-flight-nerds, photographers, pelagic seafarers, Sunday strollers, museum specimen perusers, shorebird geeks, subspecies maniacs, car birders and others - to come together and support a common cause.
It'll be a secret handshake. See that guy in the park wearing a cool Pelicans hat? We're nowhere near Louisiana, must be a birder.
Cases can be made for other teams, and I'm open to other arguments. In Maryland, where I live, the Baltimore Orioles are a great choice. They've got a great pedigree, and, as I've said many times before, because they are a whole team name that's also a whole species name, they are the best bird-named team there is. Period. Plus, as far as birder-wide branding and symbology goes, the Orioles have a leg-up on the Pelicans (which don't really feature the bird in their logos as much as they could) with awesome hats like these. The Toronto Blue Jays and St. Louis Cardinals, too, have caps that are both fashionable and perfect for birder-to-birder recognition (though the Blue Jays should really be for Canadian birders).
But none of those work as well as the Pelicans. The Orioles are the rival of my main baseball squeeze, the Red Sox, so they're out. The Jays are a rival and Canadian, and I've never much liked cardinals all that much, too populist. But the Pelicans! Such a cool bird, a niche bird! One that birders appreciate but others overlook. Plus their mascot is awkward and scares children, just like some of the socially-awkward birders I know (it got so bad for Pierre the Pelican that he had to have plastic surgery to make him look "less scary"). Finally, Louisiana is just a fantastic place to bird, and has connections to JJ Audubon, too.
So, the New Orleans Pelicans are my vote. But in the interest of fairness, I want to put a poll in here of all the pro sports teams named after birds to see what the community thinks the Official Birder Sports Team should be.