Auburn will retire bald eagle Spirit from pregame flights


(Photo by Auburn University Southeastern Raptor Center)

AUBURN, Ala. — Spirit, one of Auburn University’s many eagles that soar over the stadium before football games, will retire this fall after more almost 20 years of flights.

Spirit’s first flight over Jordan-Hare Stadium was on September 28, 2002. Since then she has inspired Auburn fans at 45 pregame ceremonies and remains the only bald eagle to have part of this nationally recognized tradition.

“Spirit has served the Auburn family well for the last 18 years, and we feel it is time to pass the reigns and let her enjoy retirement as an educational ambassador,”” said Andrew Hopkins, assistant director of raptor training and education.

Spirit retires as she celebrates her 25th birthday. The life expectancy of a bald eagle is just over 16 years.

“She has developed some arthritis, but that is typical for her age and, overall, she is in very good health,” Hopkins continued. “As she retires, a younger bald eagle named Independence will debut during pregame flights this fall at Jordan-Hare alongside Aurea.”

Spirit’s final flight across the stadium will be at the military appreciation game when Auburn hosts Mississippi State on Saturday, November 13. She will also be featured at Auburn’s “Football, Fans, and Feathers” educational program at the raptor center on November 12.

“I know our fans will give Spirit a great send-off when she makes her final stadium flight this fall,” said College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Calvin Johnson. “We all wish her well in her upcoming retirement and look forward to seeing her at educational presentation and visiting her at the Southeastern Raptor Center.”

For more information about all of Auburn raptors, visit

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