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Golden eagle joins flight crew at Auburn home football games

Auburn University

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — A new golden eagle will be joining Auburn University's avian air force.

"Aurea" joins the bald eagle Spirit. The pair will soar over Jordan-Hare Stadium before home games, The Opelika-Auburn News reported .

Aurea was brought to the Southeastern Raptor Center in Auburn's College of Veterinary Medicine in 2016, after being found near Selma, Alabama, with an injury to its right wing.

Auburn veterinarians brought her back to good health, but the aftermath of the injury causes her to have more drag during flights.

"Her flight stamina isn't quite good enough for her to be released into the wild, but it doesn't affect her flying in the stadium because she's not chasing a live animal," said Andrew Hopkins, assistant director of raptor training and education at the Southeastern Raptor Center.

The College of Education's Department of Kinesiology used a high-speed camera to capture detailed video of Aurea's flights versus the perfect flight movements of another golden eagle, Nova

"That's when we could see Aurea's wing wasn't being pulled in as far as it needs to," Hopkins said.

Aurea is a 5-year-old female, has a 6.5-foot (2 meter) wingspan and weighs 7.7 pounds (3.5 kilograms).

Nova has a heart condition and does not fly before games.

"Nova still makes numerous appearances at our educational shows throughout the year, but we don't take him to games, even on the sidelines, because of the possible stress on his heart," Hopkins said.

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