Move over, Sammy, there’s a new Seahawk in town

Cape Fear Raptor Center allows fans to interact with Stormy the osprey

Noah Thomas, Sports Editor

Everyone knows beloved UNC Wilmington mascot Sammy C. Hawk, but not as many UNCW sports fans may be familiar with his real-life counterpart.

Since the beginning of this school year, Seahawk fans have been getting to know Stormy – a rehabilitated osprey of the Cape Fear Raptor Center.

Randy Atkinson, a CFRC employee and Stormy’s main handler, regularly brings the bird to UNCW athletic events to give him face time with locals. Atkinson started bringing Stormy to games after running into “Voice of the Seahawks” Mike Vaccaro in a chance meeting.

“We had been talking about it for a while when we would meet students down on Front Street (in downtown),” he said. “What finally brought it up is that we met Mike Vaccaro one night and he had a very official-looking shirt on and I said, ‘If I had known you were here, I would have brought my Seahawk.”

The three-year-old Stormy was brought to the CFRC as a nestling after a private citizen discovered he had fallen out of his nest during a thunderstorm (from which Stormy’s name derives), causing a broken wing. The CFRC specializes in rehabilitating injuries common in raptors – the family of predatory birds to which ospreys (the official name for “Seahawks”) belong.

Stormy made his latest appearance at a UNCW baseball game this past week to pose for pictures with fans before first pitch. As far as Atkinson knows, Stormy is the only osprey in the country trained to interact with humans.

Atkinson said ospreys are normally skittish in temperament and that normally prevents them from becoming licensed education birds like Stormy.

“They don’t usually do well,” he said. “They’re usually very skittish and very high-strung, but he’s the exception.”

See the gallery at the top of this story to get a look a Stormy in action.

Sports Editor Noah Thomas can be found on Twitter @NoahILM. Any tips or suggestions should be forwarded via email to [email protected] For video updates from The Seahawk, subscribe to our YouTube channel.