Recent News > Raptor Center Newsroom > Eagle Jesses and Lure Auction Brings $12,600 to Southeastern Raptor Center

Winner and Auburn Alumnus, Bill Nelson Says Eagle Flight Is One of His Favorite Game Day Traditions

Last Updated 1 Year(s) ago

By Janet L. McCoy, (e), (p) 334-844-3698

Auburn, Alabama —

The first ever online auction of War Eagle VII’s jesses and a lure used during the pre-game eagle flight at the epic 2013 Auburn-Alabama football game brought a remarkable $12,600 to the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Southeastern Raptor Center, donated by an Auburn University alumnus.

Bill Nelson of Birmingham won the online auction and says he was interested in owning “one of the best pieces of sports memorabilia Auburn has to offer.”

The 1970 Auburn College of Engineering graduate says the eagle pre-game flight is one of his favorite game day traditions and he’s proud to own the one-of-a-kind jesses and lure used during the Nov. 30 Auburn-Alabama game, which Auburn won 34-28.

Nelson’s winning bid – and all donations of the auctioned eagle jesses and lures – will support the Southeastern Raptor Center’s mission of rehabilitation, education and conservation.

Fans will be able to place bids at the auction site, beginning Wednesday, Dec. 11, for jesses and the lure used by Nova, War Eagle VII, during pre-game flight of the Auburn-Georgia football game. Jesses and lures from other 2013 home games will be auctioned on the same site.

Jesses are cuffs worn around the eagle’s ankles with straps to assist the handler to securely hold the eagle. The lure is used by the handler to entice the eagle to land midfield and often has talon marks from being used. The items are handmade and uniquely decorated by volunteers or staff of the Southeastern Raptor Center and are used one time – during the Auburn eagle’s pre-game flight.

Chris Fain, the CEO of, the site which handled the auction, said, “We are very excited to have had the Auburn eagle's jesses and lure put up for bid using our services. We believe strongly this is a worthy cause and are proud to have shared in this historic Auburn football event while doing our small part. And, we look forward to a continued working relationship as additional Auburn memorabilia is auctioned at”

Dr. Jamie Bellah, director of the Southeastern Raptor Center and head of the Department of Clinical Sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine, said he and other Southeastern Raptor Center staff were elated – and a little shocked – that the items went for as much as they did.

“We are grateful to Mr. Nelson for his support and know he will treasure the memory of Nova’s pre-game flight and the Tiger’s victory too. We will put his generous donation toward both the educational and rehabilitative missions of the Southeastern Raptor Center.”

The jesses and lures are handmade and uniquely decorated by volunteers or staff of the Southeastern Raptor Center and are used one time – during the Auburn eagle’s pre-game flight. “Our volunteers contribute to the center in so many ways and their participation in designing the game lures and jesses has become a traditional contribution,” Dr. Bellah said. “It has taken some time to determine just how to make these items available to the fans.  We felt it would be special to initiate the silent auction at the Iron Bowl.

“The center has appreciated the support of the Auburn fans for years, but the end result of the auction was a far beyond our expectations.   And, we have our Auburn Tigers to thank as well, particularly after their unforgettable victory on the field.”  

Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Southeastern Raptor Center, a non-profit organization that is a division of the College of Veterinary Medicine with a three-fold mission of rehabilitation, education and conservation. The role of Auburn University’s eagles is to promote wildlife conservation as a part of the education initiative of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Raptor center staff care for and train Auburn’s eagles – Nova, a Golden Eagle who is War Eagle VII, and Spirit, a Bald Eagle. Retired Golden Eagle, Tiger, War Eagle VI, is also housed at the center and is used in the center’s many education programs. 

In addition to the Auburn eagles, the center rehabilitates and releases injured and orphaned raptors admitted for a variety of ailments. Many are rehabilitated and released, but when that is not possible, the bird becomes a permanent resident at the center or transferred to another educational facility. The center also conducts more than 350 educational programs yearly, going to schools and events to educate the public about the importance of birds of prey.

Contact: Janet McCoy, College of Veterinary Medicine, 334/844-3698,

 About Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine

The country's seventh oldest veterinary college and the oldest in the South, Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine is one of the nation's preeminent institutions for research, teaching, diagnostics, and comprehensive medical care for animals. The mission of the college is to prepare individuals for careers of excellence in veterinary medicine, including private and public practice, industrial medicine, academics and research. The college has 125 faculty members and a current enrollment of 487 DVM and graduate students. Online:

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