It may be confusing to an outsider, but to Auburn people it is very simple. That’s why Auburn’s golden eagle symbol is named “Tiger”. Whenever Auburn people gather, the battle cry “Warrrrrrr Eagle!” is almost certain to be heard.

Since the first War Eagle, there have been six other birds through Auburn’s history, which have served as the school’s symbol and kept alive the legendary battle cry.

The first War Eagle, according to legend, died the same day it inspired Auburn students to yell its name — 1892 in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park when Auburn played Georgia in the Deep South’s first football game. After War Eagle I died, Auburn went without a successor until 1932, when War Eagle II came to Auburn. Due the depression and other factors, War Eagle II and his successor, War Eagle III, served Auburn only sporadically over the next few decades.

Then, in 1965, the City of Birmingham acquired an eagle from the Jackson, MS zoo and gave it to Auburn. War Eagle IV would enjoy a reign of 15 years. War Eagle V arrived in Auburn March 3, 1981 from Wyoming and served the school until her tragic death due to illness in 1986. Her successor, War Eagle VI, like her predecessors was affectionately named “Tiger”. She came to Auburn from the TVA Raptor Rehabilitation Facility at Land between the Lakes, KY, after being born into an illegal breeding operation in Missouri from which she was rescued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She arrived in Auburn on Oct. 8, 1986 at the approximate age of six-years-old.

In 2000, the Raptor Center at Auburn University (RCAU), located on the campus of Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, took over the primary care of Tiger. Prior to moving to the RCAU, Alpha Phi Omega, a non-profit service fraternity, had selflessly cared for the raptor on campus for 41 years.

Tiger, who officially belongs to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, now lives at and is cared for by the RCAU and makes appearances before and during games. In addition to appearing at Auburn athletic events, Tiger makes numerous public appearances each year including visits to schools promoting conservation education about eagles and other endangered species. Among the most popular forms of wildlife in the world, birds of prey such as Tiger symbolize strength and courage as well as other important values including freedom, heritage and the preservation of our natural environment. With these charismatic qualities, she not only serves as a wonderful ambassador for Auburn, but can also be used as a flagship species to focus attention on the need for wildlife research and conservation.

From this conservation standpoint, it is important to point out that all birds used in Auburn’s educational programs, including Tiger, are considered non-releasable due to prior injuries or human imprinting. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which tasks Auburn to care for and rehabilitate all raptors at the RCAU, any bird capable of surviving in the wild must be released.

Always endeared by Auburn fans, War Eagle VI won a place in the hearts of college football fans across the country when she began a new tradition at Auburn in the 2000 football season. That is when she began to gracefully soar onto the field before each home game. Initially flying from the goal post, she soon moved her launch to the upper deck. From there, she makes magnificent flights circling the field to the deafening cheer of “Waaaaarrrrrr Eagle!”, culminating when she lands in an attack position on the 50 yard line. Indeed, the image of her unfettered flight is not only reminiscent of War Eagle I’s first flight in Piedmont Park, it is a powerful symbol of patriotism captured in print and distributed nationwide.

But perhaps the biggest recognition Tiger has received was during the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, where she flew across the ice in front of thousands in the stadium and billions of viewers worldwide. After her outstanding performance, Tiger was also featured on NBC’s Today Show.

Today, War Eagle VI continues to serve Auburn and the Raptor Center, but due to her rising age she officially retired on November 11, 2006. At the same game War Eagle VI retired, Nova, a six year old golden eagle was introduced as the next Tiger, becoming War Eagle VII. He was born in captivity in the Montgomery, AL Zoo in 1999 and was transferred to Auburn when he was six months old. Entering his new role with plenty of practice, War Eagle VII had occasionally been performing pre-game flights for three years when he officially became the new Tiger.