Auburn University eagle, Indy, takes flight in Philadelphia Eagles game

AUBURN, Ala. (WTVM) - An Auburn bald eagle takes its first national flight, soaring over 70,000 Philadelphia Eagles fans at Lincoln Financial Field this past Thursday.

Independence, better known as Indy, left Philly football fans in awe as she brought in another Eagles home game.

“She’s a real personality. Kind of a drama queen because she’s very talkative and loves being the center of attention, almost like she’s saying, ‘look at me, look at me,’” said Auburn University’s Raptor Center Director Wade Stevens.

Indy started at the center at the age of two and has been there for five years, preparing for a moment to showcase her abilities.

“With birds trained for free-flighted performance, weight management is important,” Stevens said. “Their activity, intake and output are closely monitored to ensure the proper flying weight.”

The raptor center is a branch of Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine, one of the few university-based raptor centers in the United States that Stevens joined only a year ago as the full-time director.

Stevens had a big goal of scaling the raptor center to a national level, expanding the center’s outreach far outside the city of Auburn and heightening the facility and programs. Stevens attributes the Philadelphia Eagles partnership to the strong relationships his staff handlers have built. When some birds began to retire or back off from service, their handlers would refer clients to Auburn, similar to Challenger from the American Eagle Foundation. This led to the start of the Eagles partnership.

Stevens says they are very excited about the new partnership with the Eagles and hope flight like the recent one becomes more frequent.

For Indy’s Philadelphia flight, raptor center advocates Stevens, Sweeney, Andrew Hopkins and Dr. Amberly Sokoloff were all in attendance.

Jatavia O'Neal

Jatavia O'Neal

Jatavia joined the News Leader 9 team in February 2022.