Fridays before the Auburn Tigers play home games, many fans are rushing around campus setting up tailgates. Others, however, are visiting the Southeastern Raptor Center off Shug Jordan Parkway.

"Football, Fans & Feathers" is an educational program that premiers Auburn's birds of prey, including the infamous gameday War Eagle's. Folks pile in the Edgar B. Carter Educational Amphitheater, which can hold 350 raptor fans. Fans are able to learn about the raptors housed at the center and see raptors fly above the amphitheater.

There are many "ooh's" and "ahh's" from the young fans when the War Eagle's, Nova, the golden eagle, and Spirit, the bald eagle, are released to fly around. All the parents rush to snap a photo before the bird flys back to its keeper.

"It's a great chance to see the birds up close," said Marianne Hudson, raptor biologist. "Also to take pictures and learn."

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Dr. Jaime Bellah, director of the Raptor Center, said the program began three years. The amphitheater was built thanks to a donation from the Carter family, which it is named for, and is used for educational programs for children and adults, Bellah said.

"The program is geared to kids and adults and there is time for questions afterward," Bellah said. "They may have anywhere from eight to 10 birds on somedays that will fly during the program. It's quite an exciting program for the general public and especially the children that come."

The raptors used at the "Football Fans & Feathers" are ones that inhabit the South. They include: Eagles, Falcons, Hawks, Vultures, Osprey, Owls, Harriers and Kites, according to the raptor center Web site.

"At the alumni tent though, we take several raptors each gameday, and they can ask questions and we can show the kids the birds," Bellah said. "We try to do an educational program at the alumni tent as well."

"Football, Fans & Feathers" has three shows left in the Tigers football season. The upcoming dates are Oct. 30 (Ole Miss), and Nov. 6 (Homecoming) at 4 p.m. For the Iron Bowl, the program will be Nov. 27 at 9 a.m. "Football Fans & Feathers" is held at the Amphitheater on Raptor Road, off of Shug Jordan Parkway. Tickets are $5 and children 3 years old and younger, are free (no reservation required). For large groups of 25 or more, tickets are $3 a person and the raptor center requests reservations by calling 334-844-6943.

For more information regarding "Football, Fans & Feathers," visit the Southeastern Raptor Center online, part of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Web site at

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