AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – On Tuesday a beloved member of the Auburn family celebrated a birthday. Nova, who served as War Eagle VII for Auburn University, celebrated his 23rd birthday on April 26, 2022.

Nova officially retired on Nov. 23, 2019, but took his last flight around Jordan-Hare Stadium in 2017 due to a medical condition.  Nova has cardiomyopathy, a chronic disease of the heart. 

The official War Eagle Facebook page wished the golden eagle Happy Birthday in a post on Tuesday. A tweet was also sent out to mark the occasion. A shoutout to Nova on his big day also came from the Southeastern Raptor Center’s Facebook page.

Nova came to Auburn in 2000, after hatching at the Montgomery Zoo in 1999. He could not be released into the wild because he had imprinted on humans. His first pregame flight was in 2004, in a game against Kentucky. In 2006, Nova officially became War Eagle VII.

Aurea, the current War Eagle, War Eagle VIII, took over the reins upon Nova’s retirement, sharing duties with bald eagles Spirit and newest edition to flock Independence (Indy). Spirit, too has retired, soaring around Jordan Hare Stadium a final time on Nov. 26, 2021. With her final flight, Spirit was named an honorary War Eagle.

Both Nova and Spirit live at the Southeaster Raptor Center and serve as ambassador animals for the center’s educational program. Aurea and Indy also call the center home.