My friend Matt sent me this post: Baltimore Orioles Unveil New Logo, Uniforms The author was evidently unimpressed with the mating and feeding habits of orioles. Being a Maryland native, I felt a little wounded, so I did some digging to follow up on both.
“After reading the word ‘monogamous,’ I stopped paying attention.”
After reading the word “monogamous,” I sit up and start citing papers. Case in point: Orioles, like most songbirds, are socially monogamous, but a study that ran DNA tests on Mom, Dad and the kids found paternity mismatches in 32% of chicks. Also, orioles don’t eat seeds, but instead stab fruit with their beaks, rip open the flesh, and suck out the juice with their tongues. I imagine them forming crazed zombie hordes that ravage orchards and leave raisin-y paths of destruction. The only thing missing on that logo is a thick, dark smear of juice dribbling ominously down their bills.
I decided to look up extra-pair paternity rates for the other two bird species featured in baseball. Up to 35% of cardinal chicks are sired by extra-pair males. As for blue jays, the jury’s still out, but with 90% of socially monogamous songbirds found to engage in extra-pair mating, I’m willing to bet a lot of sunflower seed there’s some intrigue going on.
I don’t know that I have much standing to comment on mascots, though. In undergrad I cheered for a bipedal turtle with eyebrows, and now I watch a guy in a blue cape surfing over my advisor every week.