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Where eagles dare: raptors on campus

Paul Greatrix rounds up birds of prey on university campuses.
This article is more than 5 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

There has been plenty of coverage of higher ed animal action here in the past from the amazing range of goings on of the beasts of UoN to an array of troublesome birds and avian antics on campus but this is a different level altogether.

Take it to the limit

The University of Minnesota has an extraordinary Raptor Centre which rehabilitates around 1,000 sick and injured raptors a year whilst conducting research into raptor environmental, health and population issues and providing a major public education programme:

Let a visit to The Raptor Center start your exploration of learning about raptors and the world we share together. Our winged ambassador birds and knowledgeable staff and volunteers will be your guides. Whether you want to just spend an hour with us, or begin a lifetime of learning and appreciation for what raptors can teach us, we welcome the opportunity to share with you.

It’s not entirely clear how ambassadorial Ricke, Rowan, Samantha and their friends actually are but I’m sure they are appreciated by visitors.

Hotel California

UC Davis has a similar offering and the California Raptor Centre, while slightly smaller than its Minnesota counterpart, offers a similar range of rehabilitation, research and education services.

Meanwhile, in the south east of the USA Auburn University has its own raptor centre too – which conducts similar work to its northern and western counterparts but with one significant addition:

The education division of the SRC cares for and trains Auburn’s eagles – Nova, a Golden Eagle who is War Eagle VII, and Spirit, a Bald Eagle – as well as conducts more than 350 of educational programs annually, both at the center and around the Southeast, to educate the public about the importance of birds of prey. The rehabilitation division of the center also takes in injured birds of prey, rehabilitates them and releases them back into the wild. This year alone, more than 400 birds were admitted for treatment. When release is not possible, the bird becomes a permanent resident at the center or is transferred to another educational facility.

Whilst the mascot of Auburn is a tiger, the ‘fight song’ is all about the ‘War Eagle’ and an eagle from the centre is flown before each home football game. The eagle is accompanied with this rather aggressive song…

War Eagle, fly down the field,
Ever to conquer, never to yield.
War Eagle, fearless and true.
Fight on you orange and blue.
Go! Go! Go!
On to vict’ry, strike up the band.
Give ’em hell, give ’em hell,
Stand up and yell, hey!
War Eagle, win for Auburn,
Power of Dixieland!

…which certainly does provide a distinctive tradition for the university.

Life in the fast lane

All of this is perhaps a little different from the kind of raptor activity in the UK where such creatures tend to be located in the kind of cracking places which Alan Partridge might be keen to visit rather than universities.

3 responses to “Where eagles dare: raptors on campus

  1. I was surprised when arriving on campus particularly early one morning to find a person with a falcon letting it fly around the main square. Speaking to them, they revealed that they were part of an eco-friendly pest deterrent company, which uses visits by birds-of-prey as a way of deterring other birds from settling on the campus. Apparently it is very effective – the local bird community quickly gets word that the falcon is a regular visitor and it is not a place to go.

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