You’re probably picturing a big, clumsy poof of a bird stumbling around in the shallows, picking at weeds. Wrong. The pelican is fearsome. Take a raven, for example: it’s omnivorous. It eats bugs, and seeds, and fruit, and carrion. Compared to the well-rounded citizen that is the raven, the pelican is the serial killer of birds. Not only is it a carnivore—it is a hypercarnivore. (That’s a scientific term; look it up.) The pelican eats meat, and only meat. The pelican doesn’t eat anything that didn’t used to be alive. What’s more—unlike an eagle or a falcon—the pelican almost never scavenges someone else’s kill. It craves warm flesh, so it gets the job done itself.
Oh, it splashes around in the water and gulps down fish that are just swimming by, that’s not hunting, is a thing that fools say. While it’s true that the White Pelican dips its head underwater and scoops out the fish, that’s not the pelican we’re talking about here. The Brown Pelican is the state bird of Louisiana, and it’s the only species of pelican that dives to catch its prey. The Brown Pelican is a raptor, without the stupid purple dinosaur logo.
The truly classic names aren’t aggressive—Yankees, Packers, Browns, Maple Leafs—and yet they’d never get past the first public Facebook vote today. Not edgy enough. For the last couple decades, franchises have just been picking whatever deadly local animal springs to mind. And so we’ve ended up with “cool-sounding” names like the Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Diamondbacks, and Devil Rays, which sound like they ought to be Arena Football teams. Barring that, the default has been the predatory cat, and just in the last 20 years, we have the Jaguars, Bobcats, two different Panthers, and the oh-so-imaginative Predators, whose logo is a saber-toothed tiger.