What is a Seahawk?

What is a Seahawk?

When you hear the term “Seahawk” most people tend to think of the NFL team “The Seattle Seahawks”.

Seattle Seahawks logo

A few teams in the NFL are named after an animal, and a few are named after birds such as the Philadelphia Eagles, the Baltimore Ravens, the Arizona Cardinals and the Atlanta Falcons.

Those are all well-known birds, but the Seahawk? Not so much.

So people naturally want to know what is a seahawk? There are disagreements about this term in the ornithology world. Many experts will say there is categorically no such thing as a seahawk and it is just a made up term for the team.

Other birders will maintain that Seahawks are a collective term for coastal raptors, such as Ospreys, Skuas, and Jaegers.

Osprey on Birding Planet

These birds resemble gulls in a way, but belong to their own family.

Other than the disagreement over the legitimacy of the “seahawk” term there is further discussion as to the spelling, with some birders believing the term should be two words as in “sea hawk”. Some birdwatchers also use the term “Fish Hawk”.

There are Ospreys all over the world, in fact they can be found on every continent except Antarctica.

Skuas and Jaegers are gull-like sea birds. They have mainly brown plumage, unlike the gulls which are predominantly white.

Brown Skua

Like gulls they are scavengers can can be quite vicious when stealing fish from other birds.

So, do the Seattle Seahawks use an Osprey, Jaeger or Skua as live mascot on matchdays? (as seen below)

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No they don’t!

They actually use an Augur Hawk, or an Augur Buzzard as they are called in Africa where they are predominantly found.

Photos by John Norwood, Steve Klesius and Tom Wilson who are all members of the Birding Planet Facebook group

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Rory Wilson

I am an avid hiker, birdwatcher and camper. I love the outdoors. I initially started Birding Planet to share my bird videos, now I enjoy connecting with birdwatchers around the world. Come join the Birding Planet group at facebook.com/groups/birdingplanet

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