Taima, the Seattle Seahawk, is not a seahawk. The bird is an augur hawk, not a native of Washington state, but a bird of prey from Africa.
Birds of prey have flown the skies for thousands of years. Everything on the covering of the earth is visible to them, even just under the surface of the waters or hidden within the grasses.
Birds of prey are known as raptors. Raptor comes from the Latin rapere—to seize or take by force. This requires keen eyesight, powerful talons and a strong curved beak used to tear at flesh.
Head to the Super Bowl or drive down Indian River Drive in Jensen Beach, Florida, and you’ll see a bird of prey. The Seattle Seahawks have an augur hawk which will swoop out of the tunnel before the team comes out. This bird is called Taima, which means thunder.
Augur hawks are known as buzzards in Africa. Their territory covers mountains, hills and some savannahs. They prey on snakes, lizards, small ground birds and animals and insects.
Taima came as a hatchling from St. Louis’ World Bird Sanctuary and has been trained for the job in the football stadium, even with a Super Bowl crowd watching. Taima was chosen as mascot for her markings. Though native to Africa, augur hawks share similar markings to a “sea hawk” or sea osprey. Smithsonian
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service would not allow a native sea osprey to be used as a mascot. Thus, Taima was subbed in.
A true sea hawk is the osprey, found on all continents other than Antarctica. Sea ospreys are the only larger raptors with a long unmarked white belly. With a white-crested head, he is sometimes mistaken for the Bald Eagle. The osprey's wingspan is 4.5 to 6 feet.
The osprey’s diet is 99% fish. These beautiful creatures perch or fly 33 to 131 feet above water. Diving feet first to the kill, the osprey closes its nostrils, grabs a fish with its talons, which are unique with reversible outer toes--two in the front and two in the back. (Only owls also have the ability to slide their toes back and forth in such a manner.)
His third eyelids close. Semi-transparent, they function as goggles, keeping the fish visible. The osprey is able to completely submerge himself underwater and still fly away.
There are barbed pads on the osprey's feet to hold a freshly caught fish. (An augur hawk has three toes in the front and one in the back.)
The prey is flown back to a perch or nest to be torn apart and eaten.
Sea Osprey, Frank A. Wacha Bridge, Jensen Beach, Florida, 2013
Those who have seen an osprey in flight with its yet live prey, see two heads flying in the same direction. The osprey “repositions the fish so that its head faces forward in a streamlined position.”
European ospreys winter in Africa. The North Americans fly south to South America. Many of the ospreys in Florida and California do not migrate during the winter months. Globally, the osprey population is approximately 460,000.
The Center for Conservation Biology at The College of William and Mary and the Virginia Commonwealth University hosts Osprey Watch, a global program aimed at developing citizen watchers and awareness of ospreys and their nests in local communities. At their website, volunteers can become participants, learn about hazards affecting osprey nesting and how to build a nest.
Though Taima the augur hawk flies over a stadium's cheering crowd, the sea osprey yet remains a free bird, soaring to heights farther up over U.S. coasts. A magnificent bird and incredible bird, it is well worth being known as a Seattle Seahawk.
“I know every bird of the mountains,
And everything that moves in the field is Mine." ~Psalm 50:11