Sep 15, 2011, 9:00 AM EDT
Raptor lovers were aghast on Saturday when one of Auburn’s live mascot eagles, while circling Jordan-Hare Stadium before a game, smacked into a plexiglass press box window: apparently playing “chicken” with what he thought was another eagle. The bird continued its flight, however, and its trainers reported on Wednesday that it had been checked out and is just fine.
But why, I wondered at the time, is Auburn using live eagles to entertain the masses? Shouldn’t wild animals be in the wild? It turns out, though, that Auburn is doing the Lord’s work when it comes to protecting eagles and other wild birds. Here’s the story on that:
Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine has been rehabilitating raptors found injured in the wild since the early 1970s. Now with its own facility called the Southeastern Raptor Center, the university, in conjunction with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, use non-releasable eagles to educate and inform the public about wildlife conservation. Spirit, the bald eagle that hit the press box, was found as an injured fledgling in 1995, and nursed back to health. Because of an injury to its beak it can’t hunt successfully, and thus can’t be released into the wild. Since 2001, Spirit has been used in educational demonstrations, which include flights around Jordan-Hare Stadium.
A golden eagle, Nova, is another Auburn mascot that doesn’t cruise the stadium, but is used in smaller demonstrations. It was hatched in captivity at the Montgomery Zoo. You can help support the Southeastern Raptor Center by purchasing merchandise at the Auburn University bookstore, or by calling (334) 844-6943 or visiting auburn.edu/raptor.
By the way, the tiger is Auburn’s official mascot, but War Eagle is the school’s battle cry, and the university has had a live eagle mascot since 1930. There are several legends as to how War Eagle became associated with the university, including one I made up involving three coeds and a drunken trip to the zoo (my favorite).
So, to review:
Auburn Eagle = Win.
Screech the Eagle = Fail.
ABOUT LAST NIGHT
What you missed while trying to unravel the baffling mystery of Hot Dog Man …
- Oregon bans duck lips noisemakers at Auzten Stadium. Stealing laptops still perfectly acceptable.
- Here’s video of a Chargers fan slapping a Vikings fan in the mush.
- Broncos fans plan to spend $10,000 on anti-Kyle Orton billboard. And that’s only after Week One.
TODAY IN MARK TRAIL …
Mary Worth and her scheming! Andy’s plight, by the way, is a metaphor for the pace of this plot.
- So long folks, it’s time for me to take off 18
- Man wins full marathon while pushing his daughter in a baby stroller (video) 14
- Lock and load, it’s youth baseball fundraising time: league raffling off AR-15 rifle (video) 8
- Sim Bhullar is a large basketball player, and I mean it. Anybody want a peanut? 0
- What’s with kids and all these death-defying stunts? 674
- Nothing to see here…just a 70-yard field goal by a high-schooler (video) 3
- None found
- Play Video: Sagan wins Stage 8 of Tour of California
- Play Video: Oxbow wins Preakness Stakes, Orb finishes fourth
- Play Video: van Garderen wins Tour of California
- Play Video: Konig takes Stage 7, van Garderen retains overall lead
- Play Video: Captain Callahan answers for Rangers
- Play Video: Chudzinski: 'Too early' to name a QB