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What The Heck Is A Seahawk, Anyway?

There is no such thing as a seahawk, but you super fans probably knew that already.

“Seahawk is one of those colloquial terms much like a sparrowhawk or buzzard or seagull,” said ornithologist John Klicka of the University of Washington's Burke Museum. “From a sort of a scientific perspective there's no such thing.”

"Seahawk" is bird jargon for osprey. An osprey is a bird that eats fish out of water. It has talons that have adapted to catch slippery fish.

But here’s the rub: That fierce fowl sneering on the side of Seahawks players’ helmets isn’t an osprey. It’s a sea eagle. Which doesn’t sound quite as scary, maybe because it rhymes with beagle.

We learned something else from Klicka: “There really is no such thing as a seagull.”

(“There's Bonaparte's gulls and ivory gulls,” he assured us.)

If it were up to Klicka, he would call Seattle’s football team the Ospreys.

“They’re quite an aggressive and beautiful bird,” he said. 

Currently, the real-life mascot is played by an Augur hawk named Taima.

Year started with KUOW: 2006