Home / Vintage / Auburn sent mysterious stuffed eagle from phantom fan, ponders ethics and aesthetics

Auburn sent mysterious stuffed eagle from phantom fan, ponders ethics and aesthetics

If it'd been delivered this way instead of a mysterious crate, I'm sure everyone would have been fine with it.

One autumn night in 1997, at the beginning of my freshman year, I was walking to Parker Hall and saw a guy—he didn’t look official—trying to snag feathers from the bottom of the eagle’s cage, or at least that’s what it looked like he was doing. Someone later told me that he was Native American, which apparently made it OK or something—or at least OK’er than it normally might have been. And probably way more OK’er than the eagle-ish shenanigans that happened at Auburn 20 years earlier.

From the September 20, 1977 issue of The Plainsman (earmuffs, PETA, earmuffs):

A mysterious passenger that arrived in Auburn on a Greyhound Bus recently has been troubling University officials.

The stranger, a stuffed golden eagle, was sent to the University by an unknown War Eagle fan.

But the University may not be able to keep the bird, and the donor might face a stiff fine and imprisonment; federal law prohibits killing or possessing one of the magnificent and endangered species.

The crate the eagle arrived in came with a Mimi, Fla., return address. University officials checked their files and found no connections with a phantom donor.

Upon receiving the package, the university immediately contacted the Department of the Interior. They came. They saw. They investigated.

The department is now researching the bird’s death. A log is kept on almost every eagle in the United States, which should give some lead on the age and origins of Auburn’s newest eagle.

The eagle is one of the largest of its kin, weighing about 10 pounds when it was alive, according to the Department of the Interior.

In the meantime, we had the thing on display in Samford Hall—it came mounted on some kind of branch—and Floyd Vallery, assistant to Dr. Philpott, began a bit of lobbying to keep it. No harm, no fowl, right? Otherwise, it’d just go sit in storage in Atlanta somewhere.

“It is one of the most unusual specimens in the way that it has a beauty all its own,” Vallery said.

And by “beauty” he apparently meant “creepiness.” According to the Plainsman, the way the bird’s eyes looked straight ahead, and the firmness of its claws on the branch, gave one “an eerie feeling when crossing its steely stare.”

Did we keep it? Anyone know?

Related: Auburn almost had a giant eagle mascot / Family in Auburn luxury box recalls eagle encounter

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About Jeremy Henderson

Jeremy Henderson is the editor of The War Eagle Reader and co-host of Rich and Jeremy in the Mornings on Wings 94.3 FM in Auburn. Follow him on Twitter: @wareaglereader / @jerthoughts / @RichandJeremy

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