Baldwin won’t be the only eagle at BC football games this year. For the first time in 47 years, a live eagle mascot is being brought to Alumni Stadium. BC has renewed a partnership with Zoo New England and the World Bird Sanctuary to bring in the as of yet unnamed eagle.
“We are fortunate to have a majestic and imposing mascot and showcasing an eagle in ways that are inspiring and educational will provide an exceptional opportunity for our fans while connecting with our history,” said first year Director of Athletics Brad Bates. The decision to revive this tradition was an attempt to “bring back some of our old traditions and create new ones."
The bald eagle will be available to take photos with during the Fan Fest Pregame Ceremony inside the Plex.
Throughout the month of September, a contest will be held to choose the new eagle’s name. Entries can be submitted on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #NameBCsEagle. Current leaders are Wings, Iggy and Luke Beakly, a play on the name of BC grad and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Luke Kuechly. The winner will be announced on September 28 at the game against Florida State University.
The bald eagle has been a symbol of Boston College since the year 1920, first appearing in cartoons in the pages of on-campus student newspapers. The eagle was incorporated into the uniforms of sports teams a year later. The first live eagle was gifted to the school in the year 1923, though it was actually a hawk. Unfortunately, the bird flew away two weeks after arriving on campus on the morning of a football game against Marquette University.
Boston College last had a live eagle mascot in 1966, which was named Margo, a combination of the school colors maroon and gold. After she died of an aviary virus, increased endangered species regulations and sensitivity on campus about the welfare of a captured animal led to the creation of a costumed bird mascot, which was named Baldwin in the twenty-first century.
The partnerships with Zoo New England and the World Bird Sanctuary are in place to assuage similar concerns about the eagle’s welfare. Zoo New England President and CEO John Linehan described the revival of the tradition as “an opportunity to share the wonders of wildlife with people.” Zoo New England itself works to inspire people to protect and sustain the natural world for future generations by creating fun and engaging experiences that integrate wildlife and conservation programs, research and education.
It remains to be seen whether the campus and BC tailgaters will embrace the naming competition and another eagle mascot on game day or if the difficulty of having a bird in an unnatural environment will prove too difficult once again.
Featured image via Stuart Richards/Flickr.