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I write regarding the student vote on making the belted kingfisher a sports mascot for the University of Illinois.

First, the Belted Kingfisher is not orange and blue. This kingfisher is slate-blue (gray) and white, and only the female has a chestnut colored band on her front.

Kingfishers are the prey of hawks and mammals (perhaps wildcats, wolverines, Nittany lions and badgers, maybe gophers?) It is probably safe from a buckeye.

Kingfishers, on the other hand, are predators of fish, crustaceans, some amphibians and reptiles (but the terrapin would be too large for a bird of its size).

Belted kingfishers are sensitive to disturbances and leave their territories if people come around (Spartans, Hoosiers, Cornhuskers, Boilermakers and Scarlet Knights are people). What if there was a large crowd at the sporting event and the noise is overwhelming?

The selection of a mascot to represent the fighting spirit of our athletic teams should be something worthy of emulation.

It’s doubtful the Belted Kingfisher meets the characteristics of high performing, successful athletic teams — determination, motivation, strong sense of purpose and the willingness to fight to succeed. Kingfishers may possess those traits, but they are certainly not obvious.

The UI has an image exemplified by the solid orange Block I that represents integrity, strength and reliability. We are the “Fighting Illini” and do not need a Belted Kingfisher or any other mascot to show our true spirit.


St. Joseph