Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Birds and baseball

Major League Baseball has always held at least some degree of affection for birds. They have the Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, and St. Louis Cardinals franchises, so that must mean something. As a huge MLB fan, I spend much of my free time watching teams across America. I never expected to see what I have this year. While the Minnesota Twins are not named after a bird, the start of the 2010 baseball season has been full of bird talk at their new stadium, Target Field. After decades at the Metrodome, their enclosed bubble of a park, the Twins are getting to enjoy open-air baseball. They have picked up a visitor in the form of an American Kestrel.

The male Kestrel has been spotted at several ballgames, and to my knowledge, all of them were at night. At first, most people there were bewildered. Why was this "hawk" of sorts sitting on the right field foul pole? It turns out he enjoyed the stadium lights attracting insects. When he kept showing up the Twins broadcast team became very engrossed in his activities, embracing the bird as something like a secondary mascot. They told all their viewers it was an American Kestrel and provided facts about the species.

On Thursday, May 6, the Twins were losing to (ironically) the Baltimore Orioles on a rainy and chilly evening. It had been an uneventful game except for the kestrel captivating the crowd as he caught moths and other bugs in mid-air. The fans literally cheered as it grabbed a large moth then brought it back to the foul pole to eat.

This performance won over nearly every Twins fan. By last weekend, the broadcast team was asking for text message suggestions as to what they should name their new friend.

Last night Kansas City got into the act, showing and identifying a Western Kingbird that was hanging around during the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals game. We will have to see if this bird becomes a regular fan.

Hopefully the Minnesota American Kestrel will stick around. He has been very educational and entertaining for many baseball fans.

Photos via Fox Sports North (1-4) and Fox Sports Kansas City (5)

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