Sure, most people around the Puget Sound tend to think of football, but what’s the actual bird like? Unfortunately, there is no green and blue bird that fits the hazy image of a falcon which comes to mind. The Seahawk doesn’t actually exist in a technical sense. “Seahawk” is a nickname for ospreys, which are found around lakes and rivers as well as saltwater bodies. A common misconception is that the Seahawk is a falcon that lives only by saltwater in the Pacific Northwest, which is not true. Seahawks are not always by the sea, hence their other names fish hawk and fish eagle.
Much like the sports team, ospreys have had more than their fair share of ups and downs. Around the 1970’s, the use of pesticides and loss of habitat caused the number of ospreys to drop. They’ve made a comeback, but parts of their habitat are still in danger due to multiple factors, like poisonous runoff from the roads finding its way to bodies of water. Another danger to their habitat can be attributed to the growing development along the shoreline, resulting in fewer places for fish hawks to nest. Pesticides like DDT found in runoff affected the amount of calcium in their metabolism, and that in turn resulted in infertile, weak-shelled, delicate eggs. After DDT was banned in many countries, the osprey made a comeback that was just as strong, if not as noticed, as the football team did in their recent game.
It’s unlikely there will ever be a green and blue hawk that eats skittles, but we can always hope. Ospreys are brown and white, with distinctive yellow eyes that could either be intimidatingly fierce, or comically wide, depending on whether they’re facing you or not. The result of this is an almost-constant wide awake look as if the fish hawk had just had coffee for the first time and decided to have several more cups just for the sake of it. This appearance is helped by the brown stripe around their eyes that then travels onto their back. They also have thin brown wings that make an “M” shape when in flight, and a white chest and stomach. The total result is a caffeinated, majestic-looking bird that is not much of a 12th man, but more of a 12th hawk.
Article and art by Phoebe E.