Michael Taylor is not an Orioles fan. Nor is he much of a bird watcher.
But the 23-year-old St. Petersburg, Fla., resident has gathered more than 8,600 followers on Twitter with an account he made last week on a whim, @SmilingBirdLogo, where he posts his mockups of the Baltimore team's cartoon bird logo, redesigned as other bird species.
The cartoon Orioles logo is a 1960s-'80s throwback, which the team revived in 2012 after more than two decades donning the ornithologically correct bird on their ballcaps. Its uncomplicated design makes it prime for retooling, said Taylor, who works as a graphic designer for the Women's Tennis Association.
"It's just so simple," he said. "There's about five moving pieces of it. … A beak, a couple eyes and a hat color."
He tweeted the idea from his personal account on April Fools' Day, and he claims it was a joke on which he'd never meant to follow through. But it got a good response, and during a long drive home from Tennessee he mulled it over, and realized it had potential.
First Taylor tweeted the cartoon Oriole as is. Next came a yellow canary. A common toucan required him to modify the beak to make it longer. He kept them rolling: a southern rockhopper penguin with a yellow crest of feathers, a hummingbird with a long pointy beak, a brown pelican with a throat pouch — even a turkey.
In a touch that bird watchers will appreciate, he tweets each with the birds' Latin scientific names.
The redesigns take him about 10 minutes each. He's gotten a few negative responses, usually along the lines of "you clearly have too much free time."
"I have 10 minutes to spare," he said, "if it means it gets 100 retweets."
As popular as the logos have been online — the flamingo had nearly 500 retweets at last count — Taylor doesn't expect to shift the project into any merchandise.
"I didn't start it for money or anything," he said.
That said, Taylor is sure that won't stop enterprising bootleggers from printing his purple-and-black raven on T-shirts outside M&T Bank Stadium.
"Those are going to be for sale," he said, with a laugh.
Taylor weighed in on a controversial internet question of whether the cartoon bird's beak is open. (The original cartoon had a line that more definitively outlined a closed beak; the updated one in current use allows for some ambiguity.)
"It is 100 percent closed," he said. "It has the end of the mouth curved in a way where if it was open it would be a different angle."
Taylor will run out of ideas at some point, but with 10,000 species of birds, that could take a while. People send suggestions daily, he said.
He's a Tampa Bay Rays fan, but like the long-suffering Orioles faithful, he carries a special contempt for both teams' long-dominant American League East rivals, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
A little love for his project from the Orioles' Twitter account wouldn't go awry, he said.
"I don't hate the Blue Jays and Orioles quite as much as New York and Boston," he said. "I don't want to say I cheer for the Orioles, but I hate it less when they win."