Seahawks games don't start until Taima the Hawk says soon September 13, 2013 @ 5:02 am (Updated: 12:40 pm - 9/13/13 )
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He's seven years old, and his wing-span is about 4 1/2 feet, and no Seahawks home game since 2005 has started without him.
He's Taima the hawk, and when he spreads his wings, the 12th Man knows it's time to crank it up. "Taima gets excited as the crowd noise goes," trainer and Master Falconer David Knutson said. "He gets antsy. He wants to do his flying. He knows all the different cues, when they pull out the tunnel, when the smoke starts happening."
Knutson admits, he's more nervous on game day than his famous feathered pupil. "I always think he doesn't know where I am, he's not going to see me, he's going to go somewhere else, but he knows right where I'm at," he said. "And the crowd, when they see him on the Jumbotron, they go crazy."
But Knutson said Taima is a pro, and he pulls it all off despite the absolute chaos and mayhem going on in the stadium around him. "He's bomb-proof out there," Knutson said. "I think he loves being at the games. I think he loves the excitement. With the crowd roar, the 12th Man at full roar, and there's sound. There's pyrotechnics. There's all sorts of different things going on, and he doesn't flinch."
Taima does a lot more than look menacing as he flies out of the tunnel. He works Touchdown City. He works the suites. He lets fans come up and pet him, and he poses for pictures.
Knutson said he's never had a negative interaction, at least with the fans. There have been a few native Peregrine Falcons that live at CenturyLink Field that have dive-bombed him. Several seagulls have given him the business, too.
He said fans are going to get an extra treat from Taima at halftime on Sunday. He's not going to let the Hawk out of the bag, but he said it's something that has never been done before in the NFL. Look for it at halftime.
Also, if you need to settle a bet - there is no such thing as a "seahawk," at least in ornithology. Taimi is an Augur Hawk. He was hatched in St. Louis.
He is the second bird of prey to have this job. Faith, a female hawk, had the job for the first two seasons before Taima took over.
Kickoff is at 5:30 p.m. and the pre-game on KIRO Radio begins at 2 p.m.
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