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For the Birds

Sports world's avian follies

Last week
Spirit, a live hawk mascot released by the Atlanta Hawks before a playoff game, refuses to return to his handler. When he turns up on a basket, several players freak out, leading to a delay as the bird's handler wrangles it.

The Yankees pay 10 grand to have Challenger, a bald eagle, land on the pitcher's mound before Game 1 of the ALCS. However, the bird is spooked by an F-14 flyover and nearly hits Derek Jeter in the face. "He was a little off today," says Jeter. Challenger is not asked back for Game 2.

Several doves released in the opening ceremonies for the Seoul Games land on the unlit Olympic torch cauldron. Some—but, alas, not all—successfully scatter when the cauldron is lit.

Tawalki, an Air Force Falcons mascot, goes AWOL during a stunt at Florida. When a falcon is spotted the next day at a nearby golf course, would-be rescuers are told to lure it by swinging a piece of meat on a string while whistling. To their embarrassment, the bird had actually been recovered in the parking lot after the game.