Famed raptor dies at Auburn

Tiger, War Eagle VI, has died, the university has announced.

Tiger never yielded, which is what you want out of an eagle that you ask to fly down a field. So long associated with Auburn, she was thought to be among the oldest golden eagles in captivity.

Tiger started that uniquely Auburn tradition, superlative to almost every other pre-game routine everywhere, at the beginning of the 2000 season.

A friend of mine was a member of the service fraternity who took care of her back then, when she lived in the aviary just off the concourse. You could see them training her at a particular time most any afternoon.

When my family came to visit my freshman year I took my grandmother by to meet Tiger. She had her picture made with her. “That’s just something you don’t get to do every day.”


My grandmother did it again the next year too. Then she said “I bet nobody ever gets to do that!”

The first eagle to fly free in Jordan-Hare Stadium soared through the 2006 installment of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. For her last Iron Bowl, the 2005 “Honk if you sacked Brodie” game, Tiger landed near us on the field. They’d named the field itself after Pat Dye. It was Carl Stephen’s last game as the voice of the stadium. Tiger sacked Brodie twice.


During Tiger’s years of mascot service Auburn amassed a record of 75-27 with the SEC championship in 2004.

A grateful nation also asked her to fly in the 2002 Olympics.

After Nova and Spirit took over the pre-game flights, Tiger kept touring and teaching as part of her role at the Southeast Raptor Center.


She helped educate audiences throughout the region. Her likeness remains a fund raiser. Believed to be one of the oldest golden eagles in captivity, Auburn announced today that she has died at 34.

War Eagle! Fly down the field! Ever to conquer, never to yield!

(A brief version of this post appeared at The War Eagle Reader.)

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